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Project ELJABR

The ELJABR (Elimination of the Language Barriers Faced by the Handicapped Viewers of the Czech Television) project was started in July 2006 and completed in September 2011. The project was solved by Laboratory of Computer Speech Processing (Department of Cybernetics) at the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen in cooperation with SpeechTech, s.r.o. company. The project was aimed to eliminate the language barriers of two groups of the handicapped viewers of the Czech Television. The first group consists of hard of hearing viewers, who take advantage of the closed captions while watching TV programs. This objective was addressed deploying newly developed and specially adapted automatic speech recognition systems, especially for subtitling "live" TV programs. The second group represents older or mentally disabled viewers, who are not able to perceive original TV audio track; bothers them low intelligibility of real dialogues or even music and sound effect background. A computer speech synthesis techniques (for generation of alternative audio track without bothering elements) were used to solve this problem.

The first example relates to the issue of automatic subtitling of "live" TV programs. During the project a system for transcription of acoustic signal from the Czech Parliament meetings was set up. The system was tested in experimental operation for one and half a year and from May 2010 the subtitling service is provided by the project solvers. Over 600 hours of Parliament meetings were broadcasted with automatically generated closed captions. The subtitle delay is caused by the processing of the captions, because the whole caption has to be prepared before it is broadcasted by the Czech Television.

(WMV: Demo 1)
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Demo 1 - An automatic subtitling of the Czech Parliament meetings.

The next example from the experimental operation is the system for subtitling using a re-speaker (the re-speaker is a man who re-speaks the original dialogues by his own words). In this way a pilot program Questions of Václav Moravec is subtitled. Other programs selected by the Czech Television are being prepared for re-speaking. The subtitle delay is about five seconds.

(WMV: Demo 2)
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Demo 2 - An automatic subtitling of the program Questions of Václav Moravec.

A second major objective of the project was to design and implement a system for automatic creation of an alternative audio track accompanying the television broadcast. This audio track is intended for viewers with different hearing (or mental) disabilities, so for viewers who have problems with perception of contemporary TV programs. The audio track is generated automatically from the closed captions using a specially adapted computer speech synthesis technology, so it contains only synthetic speech of neutral nature (with no emotional or expressive components) with a low speech rate and dynamics, without bothering elements - noise, music and sound effects. Putting the results into the real operation is only a matter of technical preparedness of the Czech Television.

The first experimental broadcasting is expected by the end of 2011.

(AVI: Demo 3)
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Demo 3 - A sample of alternative audio track with more synthetic voices.
(AVI: Demo 4)
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Demo 4 - A sample of alternative audio track with one synthetic voice.