AI for Social Good – Google AI Weblog


Google’s AI for Social Good group consists of researchers, engineers, volunteers, and others with a shared deal with constructive social influence. Our mission is to show AI’s societal profit by enabling real-world worth, with initiatives spanning work in public well being, accessibility, disaster response, local weather and vitality, and nature and society. We consider that one of the simplest ways to drive constructive change in underserved communities is by partnering with change-makers and the organizations they serve.

On this weblog put up we focus on work finished by Venture Euphonia, a group inside AI for Social Good, that goals to enhance computerized speech recognition (ASR) for individuals with disordered speech. For individuals with typical speech, an ASR mannequin’s phrase error price (WER) might be lower than 10%. However for individuals with disordered speech patterns, akin to stuttering, dysarthria and apraxia, the WER may attain 50% and even 90% relying on the etiology and severity. To assist handle this downside, we labored with greater than 1,000 individuals to gather over 1,000 hours of disordered speech samples and used the information to indicate that ASR personalization is a viable avenue for bridging the efficiency hole for customers with disordered speech. We have proven that personalization might be profitable with as little as 3-4 minutes of coaching speech utilizing layer freezing methods.

This work led to the event of Venture Relate for anybody with atypical speech who may benefit from a customized speech mannequin. Inbuilt partnership with Google’s Speech group, Venture Relate allows individuals who discover it onerous to be understood by different individuals and expertise to coach their very own fashions. Folks can use these customized fashions to speak extra successfully and achieve extra independence. To make ASR extra accessible and usable, we describe how we fine-tuned Google’s Common Speech Mannequin (USM) to higher perceive disordered speech out of the field, with out personalization, to be used with digital assistant applied sciences, dictation apps, and in conversations.

Addressing the challenges

Working carefully with Venture Relate customers, it turned clear that customized fashions might be very helpful, however for a lot of customers, recording dozens or tons of of examples might be difficult. As well as, the customized fashions didn’t all the time carry out nicely in freeform dialog.

To handle these challenges, Euphonia’s analysis efforts have been specializing in speaker impartial ASR (SI-ASR) to make fashions work higher out of the field for individuals with disordered speech in order that no further coaching is important.

Prompted Speech dataset for SI-ASR

Step one in constructing a strong SI-ASR mannequin was to create consultant dataset splits. We created the Prompted Speech dataset by splitting the Euphonia corpus into practice, validation and take a look at parts, whereas guaranteeing that every break up spanned a variety of speech impairment severity and underlying etiology and that no audio system or phrases appeared in a number of splits. The coaching portion consists of over 950k speech utterances from over 1,000 audio system with disordered speech. The take a look at set accommodates round 5,700 utterances from over 350 audio system. Speech-language pathologists manually reviewed all the utterances within the take a look at set for transcription accuracy and audio high quality.

Actual Dialog take a look at set

Unprompted or conversational speech differs from prompted speech in a number of methods. In dialog, individuals communicate sooner and enunciate much less. They repeat phrases, restore misspoken phrases, and use a extra expansive vocabulary that’s particular and private to themselves and their group. To enhance a mannequin for this use case, we created the Actual Dialog take a look at set to benchmark efficiency.

The Actual Dialog take a look at set was created with the assistance of trusted testers who recorded themselves talking throughout conversations. The audio was reviewed, any personally identifiable data (PII) was eliminated, after which that information was transcribed by speech-language pathologists. The Actual Dialog take a look at set accommodates over 1,500 utterances from 29 audio system.

Adapting USM to disordered speech

We then tuned USM on the coaching break up of the Euphonia Prompted Speech set to enhance its efficiency on disordered speech. As a substitute of fine-tuning the total mannequin, our tuning was primarily based on residual adapters, a parameter-efficient tuning method that provides tunable bottleneck layers as residuals between the transformer layers. Solely these layers are tuned, whereas the remainder of the mannequin weights are untouched. Now we have beforehand proven that this method works very nicely to adapt ASR fashions to disordered speech. Residual adapters have been solely added to the encoder layers, and the bottleneck dimension was set to 64.


To judge the tailored USM, we in contrast it to older ASR fashions utilizing the 2 take a look at units described above. For every take a look at, we examine tailored USM to the pre-USM mannequin greatest suited to that activity: (1) For brief prompted speech, we examine to Google’s manufacturing ASR mannequin optimized for brief type ASR; (2) for longer Actual Dialog speech, we examine to a mannequin educated for lengthy type ASR. USM enhancements over pre-USM fashions might be defined by USM’s relative dimension improve, 120M to 2B parameters, and different enhancements mentioned within the USM weblog put up.

Mannequin phrase error charges (WER) for every take a look at set (decrease is healthier).

We see that the USM tailored with disordered speech considerably outperforms the opposite fashions. The tailored USM’s WER on Actual Dialog is 37% higher than the pre-USM mannequin, and on the Prompted Speech take a look at set, the tailored USM performs 53% higher.

These findings counsel that the tailored USM is considerably extra usable for an finish consumer with disordered speech. We are able to show this enchancment by transcripts of Actual Dialog take a look at set recordings from a trusted tester of Euphonia and Venture Relate (see under).

Audio1    Floor Fact    Pre-USM ASR    Tailored USM
   I now have an Xbox adaptive controller on my lap.    i now have so much and that guide on my mouth    i now had an xbox adapter controller on my lamp.
   I have been speaking for fairly some time now. Let’s examine.    fairly some time now    i have been speaking for fairly some time now.
Instance audio and transcriptions of a trusted tester’s speech from the Actual Dialog take a look at set.

A comparability of the Pre-USM and tailored USM transcripts revealed some key benefits:

  • The primary instance exhibits that Tailored USM is healthier at recognizing disordered speech patterns. The baseline misses key phrases like “XBox” and “controller” which are vital for a listener to know what they’re attempting to say.
  • The second instance is an effective instance of how deletions are a major concern with ASR fashions that aren’t educated with disordered speech. Although the baseline mannequin did transcribe a portion accurately, a big a part of the utterance was not transcribed, shedding the speaker’s supposed message.


We consider that this work is a crucial step in the direction of making speech recognition extra accessible to individuals with disordered speech. We’re persevering with to work on enhancing the efficiency of our fashions. With the speedy developments in ASR, we intention to make sure individuals with disordered speech profit as nicely.


Key contributors to this mission embody Fadi Biadsy, Michael Brenner, Julie Cattiau, Richard Cave, Amy Chung-Yu Chou, Dotan Emanuel, Jordan Inexperienced, Rus Heywood, Pan-Pan Jiang, Anton Kast, Marilyn Ladewig, Bob MacDonald, Philip Nelson, Katie Seaver, Joel Shor, Jimmy Tobin, Katrin Tomanek, and Subhashini Venugopalan. We gratefully acknowledge the assist Venture Euphonia acquired from members of the USM analysis group together with Yu Zhang, Wei Han, Nanxin Chen, and lots of others. Most significantly, we needed to say an enormous thanks to the two,200+ individuals who recorded speech samples and the numerous advocacy teams who helped us join with these individuals.

1Audio quantity has been adjusted for ease of listening, however the authentic recordsdata could be extra in step with these utilized in coaching and would have pauses, silences, variable quantity, and so forth. 


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