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Augmentative Communication Technology for Individuals with Autism and Other Special Needa




MAS: Media Arts and Sciences

Faculty Supervisor:

Rosalind Picard

Faculty email:


Apply by:

Feb. 7


Kristy Johnson: ktj@mit.edu

Project Description

We are creating augmentative communication technology that translates personalized non-speech vocalizations in real-time for minimally verbal individuals, including those with autism, Down syndrome, and other genetic disorders. These non-speech vocalizations convey rich affective and communicative information, but they are often not understood by anyone outside of primary caregivers. Our work leverages these caregivers’ unique knowledge to enhance communicative exchanges between minimally verbal individuals and the wider community. We are looking for enthusiastic, committed individuals who are hoping to make a difference to an underserved population. Responsibilities will primarily involve developing graphic and video-based materials for study participants, working with us on study design and methodology, and interfacing with families in the community. Because this technology is being developed from the ground up, you will also have the opportunity to be exposed to every aspect of the development from machine learning and audio signal processing to human-computer interaction and app development. Familiarity with autism or other special needs appreciated but not required. This position is available for Spring 2020, with preference to students who are interested in continuing this position during Summer 2020.


Desired skills: - Excellent written and oral communication skills - Graphic design - Video editing In your response you should state: - Major - Class Year - Estimated UROP time available per week - Any relevant background or skills