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Workshop description

Recent studies show that the number of children and adults facing difficulties in reading and understanding written texts is steadily growing (PIRLS 2016 (Mullis et al. 2017); Unicef 2018). Reading challenges can show up early on and may include reading accuracy, speed, or comprehension to the extent that the impairment interferes with academic achievement or activities of daily life.

Various technologies (text customization, text simplification, text to speech devices, screening for readers through games and web applications, to name a few) have been developed to help poor readers to get better access to information as well as to support reading development (McNamara 2007; Gasparini & Culén 2012; Rauschenberger et al. 2019). Among those technologies, text simplification (Siddarthan 2014; Saggion 2017) might be a powerful way to leverage document accessibility by using NLP techniques. The idea is not to impoverish written language but to propose simplified or adapted versions of a given text that convey the exact same meaning.

Adapting a text will allow people with reading difficulties to eventually get through a text and thus discover the pleasure of reading through understanding what they read. This will allow them to enter a virtuous circle, whereby word recognition and decoding skills are trained through reading more. The promise of this enterprise is that training readers  on simpler texts will lower their give-up threshold and improve their decoding, word recognition and comprehension skills, which ultimately would allow them to move on to more complex texts.

Topics

This workshop invites participation from individuals with experience and/or interest in natural language applications for automatic text adaptation as a device to improve reading. Topics include but are not limited to the following:

  • Theoretical frameworks for text adaptation

  • Resources for text adaptation (corpora, lexicons)

  • Empirical validation of textual adaptations

  • Assessment of text difficulty (readability, eye-tracking)

  • Complex word identification

  • Generation of simple texts from textual data

  • Automatic text simplification, including:

    • Lexical simplification

    • Syntactic simplification

    • Discourse simplification

  • Evaluation procedures and measures in text adaptation

  • Meaning representation in text adaptation

  • Educational devices for reading

  • ...

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