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Quality Initiative Event 2014.

Quality Initiative Event 2014

Erica Bradley writes – 

The Professional Services (PS) Directorate, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust includes Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Speech & Language Therapy, Dietetics, Chaplaincy, Medical Illustration, Psychological Services and Bereavement Services. The Quality Initiative (QI) event is an annual opportunity for PS to showcase their work to colleagues and anyone who may be interested, including the Trust Executive Group. It is a good way to share learning and encourage innovation.

We submitted one of our posters “Meeting the challenge of simultaneous talk for cochlear implant users: a progress report” for this event, it was accepted and exhibited alongside 38 other posters. The event took place on 8th December at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital  (RHH) & 17th December at the Northern General Hospital (NGH).

Sixty five people attended the RHH event and ninety one the NGH event. All those attending are asked to submit a vote for the best poster and this year’s winner was ‘The development of mindfulness Half-hours for the Benefit of Trust Staff‘.

The involvement of patients in developing services in healthcare is valued and within PS there is a patient panel, the development of which was outlined in another poster. Although we didn’t win we had the opportunity to raise awareness about the difficulties experienced by CI users in conversation and highlight our project. Emina & I attended both events and were able to talk to those who were interested about the project.

Expert panel


Erica Bradley writes – 

We recruited our panel of five Experts in April 2014 and we have met five times so far.

The Experts have helped us massively to ensure that what we are doing is going to be appropriate and useful. Their input has been invaluable and recent discussions, relating to the use of clear and consistent terminology, have made me realise how well they have done to keep up with our use of technical language. We have had excellent attendance and I think everyone has enjoyed the meetings.

It has been great having the mix of academic and NHS expertise and working with professionals from different disciplines. This is my first involvement in this type of project and I have found it really rewarding.

Erica Bradley
Specialist Speech & Language Therapist (Neurotology)

Ella Page- Summer Student

I have been working on annotating the competitiveness of overlapping talk in the corpus data set for my undergraduate summer research placement. I was very fortunate to be able to attend the Leeds Multimodal Conference and iCog workshop and see the interest that people have for this project.

From this placement I have learnt from the focus group about the amount of difficulties faced by cochlear implant users in group conversations, including the challenge of competition in group conversations. This is a topic that I have quickly developed interest in during this summer placement and has compelled me to continue working towards this project for my dissertation.


Turn-taking workshop report

Last Wednesday Emina Kurtić and I held a multi-disciplinary workshop on Turn-taking in Conversation, under the auspices of the interdisciplinary cognitive science network, iCog.



We had a full-house, with students (blue dots) and staff (red dots) registering from across all five university faculties. It was clear from our rough-and-ready survey that not only was there were a wide-range of backgrounds amongst our participants, but also a wide-range of experience with the topic of the day’s workshop.

Ella Page

Ella greeting participants

Faculty backgrounds

Faculty backgrounds

Previous experience

Previous experience


Many thanks to our two invited speakers for their fascinating accounts of turn-taking! The common ground was apparent, despite the two very different approaches arising from human-centred or machine-centred points of view.

  • Projection of turn endings and turn extensionsDr Gareth Walker, School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, University of Sheffield
  • Turn-taking in speech technology applicationsProf Thomas Hain, Department of Computer Science, University of Sheffield

Our thanks too to Charles Fox who came to introduce the Sheffield Wargames Corpus, which featured in the later part of the day…

Gareth Walker

Gareth Walker

Thomas Hain

Thomas Hain

Charles Fox

Charles Fox

Hands-on data session

Following on from Charles’ talk, Emina introduced the Shefield Free Talk conversational dataset and suggested a few points for discussion. The workshop participants then gathered in small groups and spent an hour or so in conversation, uncovering varying approaches to segmentation, turn-taking cues, and potential applications of the two datasets in their particular lines of research.


We received some very encouraging feedback from participants at the workshop, and are pleased that the day seemed to be received so well. We are not planning a formal follow-up to the workshop itself, though we will have an end-of-project event in the spring for when our current AHRC grant expires. Workshop participants would be welcome to return at that stage to find out more about what progress we have made. In the meantime, the iCog network is also organising an autumn conference which may be of interest to some…


Did you learn something new?

learned something new?

was the day well spent?

was the day well spent?


We are very grateful for financial support from the iCog network and Think Ahead Researcher Development Team.

iCog logo.Think Ahead

iCog Workshop: Turn-taking in conversation: a multi-disciplinary approach

As we are trying to find short sequences of conversation that can be turned into useful training material for cochlear implant users we thought it may be helpful to get a wider perspective on how speakers take turns in conversation. We would like to see how other people are studying turn exchange between speakers in conversations and how they are applying existing knowledge in their own work. So, we decided to organise a workshop, invite researchers from different disciplines to discuss turn-taking in some of the conversations in our corpus, and learn from them.

Our free one-day workshop Turn-taking in conversation: a multi-disciplinary approach will take place on 9th July 2014 in Humanities Research Institute (HRI) at the University of Sheffield. It will feature two invited talks on turn-taking from an interactional linguistic perspective and an applied perspective of computational processing of conversational speech.  We will then have an afternoon of group exercises in conversation analysis of talk and a closing panel discussion. We hope to meet people from other disciplines, have great discussions and gain important insights on turn-taking practices in conversation that will help us in our data selection and software development.

For more information and how to register please see the workshop website.

The workshop is supported by iCog Network


UCL Voice Measurement and Applications workshop

I was very pleased to attend the Voice Measurement & Applications workshop last week, held in London in the Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences department at UCL. The workshop revealed how recent advances in audio, signal processing and machine learning are producing new applications of voice measurement. Many interesting projects were presented, and existing challenges in these fields were discussed.

Although it is not straightforward to design appropriate conversation training tasks, I felt proud that our Overlap project is working with real conversational material rather than isolated units of speech. Extended vowel phonations have commonly been used in clinical applications (for instance, asking someone diagnosed with Parkinsons to say ‘aaaaaah’). The simplification of diagnostic speech material was criticised during the workshop, however, and further to this, Dr Elina Tripoliti showed that it sometimes led to measures of voice quality which contradicted measures of real connected speech.

The workshop primarily addressed the topic of accurately measuring acoustic characteristics of the voice, assessing its quality, and tracking its changes over time. Our Overlap project is rather wider in scope, however. We do address topics of voice production, nonetheless we are more directly concerned with the communicative difficulties that cochlear-implant users face in day-to-day situations.