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The IERI Research Community :: Projects

Helping Disadvantaged Students Succeed by Improving Foundational Language and Reading Skills

Ronald A. Cole


The proposed work aims to scale up powerful, computer-based learning programs with cutting-edge speech and animation technology. These programs help children with special needs to acquire the foundational speech, language, and reading skills necessary for academic achievement, social interaction, and self-esteem. We target four populations of students with special needs, representing between twenty to twenty five percent of K-12 students in the country. These populations include students with 1) hearing impairments, 2) autism spectrum disorder, 3) limited English language proficiency, and 4) reading disabilities. Our programs can help these students overcome their significant barriers to learning so they can realize their potential. We aim to provide them and their teachers with computer-based learning tools that enable significant learning gains while reducing teacher load. Our challenge is to identify the barriers the widespread deployment and acceptance of these tools and to gain knowledge through research to develop strategies that enable us to successfully scale up programs using these tools to effect systemic change.

Cole, Ronald, Sarel van Vuuren, Bryan Pellom, Kadri Hacioglu, Jiyong Ma, Javier Movellan, Scott Schwartz, David Wade-Stein, Wayne Ward, Jie Yan (forthcoming) Perceptive Animated Interfaces: First Steps Toward a New Paradigm for Human Computer Interaction Proceedings of the IEEE, Special Issue: Multimodal Human Computer Interfaces, August 2003. Available online

You can learn more about this project by visiting the Center for Spoken Language Research at