In this paper, we explore automatic prediction of dialect density of the African American English (AAE) dialect, where dialect density is defined as the percentage of words in an utterance that contain characteristics of the non-standard dialect. We investigate several acoustic and language modeling features, including the commonly used X-vector representation and ComParE feature set, in addition to information extracted from ASR transcripts of the audio files and prosodic information. To address issues of limited labeled data, we use a weakly supervised model to project prosodic and X-vector features into low-dimensional task-relevant representations. An XGBoost model is then used to predict the speaker's dialect density from these features and show which are most significant during inference. We evaluate the utility of these features both alone and in combination for the given task. This work, which does not rely on hand-labeled transcripts, is performed on audio segments from the CORAAL database. We show a significant correlation between our predicted and ground truth dialect density measures for AAE speech in this database and propose this work as a tool for explaining and mitigating bias in speech technology.
This paper proposes a novel linear prediction coding-based data aug-mentation method for children's low and zero resource dialect ASR. The data augmentation procedure consists of perturbing the formant peaks of the LPC spectrum during LPC analysis and reconstruction. The method is evaluated on two novel children's speech datasets with one containing California English from the Southern CaliforniaArea and the other containing a mix of Southern American English and African American English from the Atlanta, Georgia area. We test the proposed method in training both an HMM-DNN system and an end-to-end system to show model-robustness and demonstrate that the algorithm improves ASR performance, especially for zero resource dialect children's task, as compared to common data augmentation methods such as VTLP, Speed Perturbation, and SpecAugment.
This paper presents the results of a pilot study that introduces social robots into kindergarten and first-grade classroom tasks. This study aims to understand 1) how effective social robots are in administering educational activities and assessments, and 2) if these interactions with social robots can serve as a gateway into learning about robotics and STEM for young children. We administered a commonly-used assessment (GFTA3) of speech production using a social robot and compared the quality of recorded responses to those obtained with a human assessor. In a comparison done between 40 children, we found no significant differences in the student responses between the two conditions over the three metrics used: word repetition accuracy, number of times additional help was needed, and similarity of prosody to the assessor. We also found that interactions with the robot were successfully able to stimulate curiosity in robotics, and therefore STEM, from a large number of the 164 student participants.