Leichte Sprache (LS; Easy-to-Read German) is a simplified variety of German characterized by simplified syntactic constructions and a small vocabulary (cf. Easy-to-read English). It provides barrier-free information for a wide spectrum of LS readers including individuals with learning difficulties, intellectual disabilities and/or a low level of literacy in the German language. By and large, text in LS is produced by authors proficient in standard German. LS readers audit the ease of understandability. We would like to change this division of roles and empower LS readers to autonomously participate in written discourse. To this end, we present EasyTalk, an assistive writing system for LS that supports fast and correct sentence formulation based on profound computational-linguistic processing. To provide useful and grammatically correct writing support, EasyTalk implements the grammar of LS in a Natural-Language Paraphrase-Generator. Following the basic, repetitive patterns of LS sentences, EasyTalk aims to support users in writing freely while practicing general linguistic concepts. EasyTalk supports users at their personal proficiency level by a personal vocabulary underpinned with customizable picture symbols and read-aloud functionality for commands and contents. EasyTalk takes readership-design aspects into account by reminding the user to add place/time of an event and stimulates to add explicit Rhetorical Relation Theory (RST)-inspired coherence specifications (couched in conjunctions like “weil/because”) to express the communicative function of the sentences. Evaluations demonstrate that EasyTalk supports users in writing text beyond the scope of short message communication by offering intuitive and easy-to-use dialogues borrowing concepts of writer’s workshops for elementary school children.
Ina Steinmetz, University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany
Karin Harbusch, University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany
Stream: Education & Difference: Gifted Education
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