Digital games can make speech therapy exercises more enjoyable for children and increase their motivation during therapy. However, many such games developed to date have not been designed for long-term use. To address this issue, we developed Apraxia World, a speech therapy game specifically intended to be played over extended periods. In this study, we examined pronunciation improvements, child engagement over time, and caregiver and automated pronunciation evaluation accuracy while using our game over a multi-month period. Ten children played Apraxia World at home during two counterbalanced 4-week treatment blocks separated by a 2-week break. In one treatment phase, children received pronunciation feedback from caregivers and in the other treatment phase, utterances were evaluated with an automated framework built into the game. We found that children made therapeutically significant speech improvements while using Apraxia World, and that the game successfully increased engagement during speech therapy practice. Additionally, in offline mispronunciation detection tests, our automated pronunciation evaluation framework outperformed a traditional method based on goodness of pronunciation scoring. Our results suggest that this type of speech therapy game is a valid complement to traditional home practice.
Hair, A., Ballard, K. J., Markoulli, C., Monroe, P., McKechnie, J., Ahmed, B., & Gutierrez-Osuna, R. (2021). A Longitudinal Evaluation of Tablet-Based Child Speech Therapy with Apraxia World. ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing, 14(1). https://doi.org/10.1145/3433607