Completed research projects*

Can AAC technology facilitate communication for patients with limited English?

ESRC grant (co-PI Hermione Lovell, Senior Public Health Specialist in the East of England Public Health Group, Department of Health, Cambridge) to investigate whether symbol-based communication (AAC = Augmentative and Alternative Communication), as used by the disabled, is appropriate for non-English speaking patients when they go to the doctor's. 138.9k, 2 years, 2004-6. Researchers: Marianne Johnson and Zeinab Mohamed. A version of the final report is available.
DG Evans, L Bowick, M Johnson, P Blenkhorn (2006) Using iconicity to evaluate symbol use. In: Miesenberger K, Klaus J, Zagler WL, Karshmer AI (eds), Computers Helping People with Special Needs, 10th International Conference, ICCHP 2006, Linz, Austria, July 11-13, 2006, Proceedings (Lecture Notes in Computer Science 4061), Berlin: Springer, pages 874-881
M Johnson (2003) Non-disabled Somali-speaking patients with limited or no English: A potential AAC user group? Communication Matters, CM2003 National Symposium, Lancaster University, p. 19.
MJ Johnson (2004) What can we learn from drawing parallels between people who use AAC and people whose first language is not English? Communication Matters 18.2, 15-17.
MJ Johnson (2005) Using Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) technology to facilitate cross-cultural communication with non-English speaking patients. Proceedings of the 8th Research Colloquium of the UK Special-Interest Group in Computational Linguistics (CLUK-05), The University of Manchester, p. 47-54
M Johnson (2005) Developing alternative communication strategies to facilitate communication with Somali asthma patients with limited English. PRISM (Postgraduate Research in Science and Medicine) Abstracts, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, (Winner of oral presentation prize)
MJ Johnson, A-L Caress, Z Mohamed (2006) Conducting a complex, exploratory study with a refugee community: practical and methodological challenges. Proceedings of RCN Annual International Nursing Research Conference 2006, York
MJ Johnson, DG Evans, Z Mohamed (2006) A pilot study to investigate alternative communication strategies in provider-patient interaction with Somali refugees. Current Perspectives in Healthcare Computing Conference, Harrogate, N.Yorks, p. 97-106
MJ Johnson, DG Evans, Z Mohamed, AL Caress (in press) A pilot study to investigate alternative communication strategies in provider-patient interaction with Somali refugees. To appear in Informatics in Primary Care
MJ Johnson, HJ Lovel, HL Somers & Z Mohamed (2004) Pictographic symbols and digitised speech: a new approach to facilitating communication with non-English speaking patients. EACH International Conference on Communication in Healthcare (Bruges), P04.02. [here]
M Johnson, Z Mohamed, H Somers, A Caress, H Lovel (2003) Communication for adult asthma patients with limited or no English: Can language technologies help in primary care clinical consultations? Pan Manchester R & D Conference, Manchester Royal Infirmary
MJ Johnson, Z Mohamed, H Somers, H Lovel (2004) Could (non-disabled) Somali speakers with limited English benefit from AAC? First Regional African AAC Conference 2004, Issues in Disability: Unheard Calls, Johannesburg, South Africa, Proceedings p.6
H Somers (2004) Disabled by language? Problems of limited majority language skills in doctor-patient communication. IJCNLP-04 Satellite Symposium: Proceedings of Asian Symposium on Natural Language Processing to Overcome Language Barriers, Hainan, China, p.104
H Somers (2006) Language engineering and the pathway to healthcare: A user-oriented view. HLT/NAACL-06 Medical Speech Translation, Proceedings of the Workshop, New York, NY, pages 32-39
H Somers, H Lovel, M Johnson & Z Mohamed (2004) Language technology for patients with limited English. EACH International Conference on Communication in Healthcare (Bruges), P04.09. [here]

Cyfieithu Peirianyddol a'r Gymraeg: Y Ffordd Ymlaen (Machine Translation and Welsh: The Way Forward)

Research for The Welsh Language Board to develop a strategy for the development of language technologies for Welsh. £9.9k, Feb-July 2004.
H Somers (2004) Machine translation and Welsh: The way forward, a report for The Welsh Language Board. Centre for Computational Linguistics, UMIST, Manchester, July 2004. Available at this link
H Somers (2004) Cyfieithu peirianyddol a'r Gymraeg: Y ffordd ymlaen, adroddiad ar gyfer Bwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg. Canolfan Ieithyddiaeth Gyfrifiadol, UMIST, Manceinion, Gorffennaf 2004. Cliciwch yma i lawrlwytho

IDOL (IRS-Based DOcument Localisation)

This INCO project (EU cooperation with third countries) aimed to design and implement a DOCUMENT LOCALISATION AND MANAGEMENT work station demonstrator, incorporating Arabic and three other demonstration languages. The consortium was headed by EPOS S.A. (Paris) and included as partners ISSCO (Switzerland), UNIVERSAL (Tunisia) and EPOS (Lebanon). (15 months, Feb 1998 to May 1999, £41,800) Researchers: David Mowatt, Anouar Daghari.
Website: here
D Mowatt (1998) The IDOL Project: Localization into and out of Arabic. The Globalization Insider 10, [available here]

TREE (TRans-European Employment)

Software development project, involving seven other partners, funded within the Language Engineering sector of the EU Commission's Fourth Framework Programme (Project No. LE1182) to implement an on-line multilingual employment service, through which prospective employees would be able to read job opportunity announcements in any of several European languages, independent of the language in which the employer originally drafted the announcement. A prototype was implemented on the Internet treating requests in English, Dutch, French, Swedish and Finnish. Partners in the consortium were SSKKII (Göteborg University), software houses MARI (Gateshead) (the main contractor), Quinary SpA (Milan), and ACE (Ashington, Northumberland) and end-users such as Newcastle City Council, the Flemish Employment Service VDAB, and the Swedish Employment Service AMS. (3 years, 1995-98, £127k)
Researchers: Alan Wallington and Teresa Paskiewicz
J Ellman, A Rogers, B Black, H Somers, J Nivre, T Lager, A Multari & L Gilardoni (1997) Foreign Language Information Extraction: An Application in the Employment Domain. Proceedings Natural Language Processing: Extracting Information for Business Needs, London, pp. 77-100.
H Somers, B Black, J Nivre, T Lager, A Multari, L Gilardoni, J Ellman & A Rogers (1997) Multilingual Generation and Summarization of Job Adverts: the TREE Project. Fifth Conference on Applied Natural Language Processing, Washington, DC, pp. 269-276. [here]

Bilingual Machine-Readable Valency Dictionary

British Council Academic Research Collaboration Programme grant for work on Machine-Readable Valency Dictionary (VALBU), in collaboration with the Institut für deutsche Sprache, Mannheim. (3 years, 1994-97, £4000) Principle researcher: Gautam Gupta (Piklu)

AREF (ARabic English French) Localisation Tool

This INCO project (EU cooperation with third countries) concerned the development of software localization tools for Arabic, English and French. The consortium was headed by Bull and included partners in Tunisia and Lebanon. (15 months, 1996-97, £21k)
A related project, IDOL, ran for 15 months from February 1998.


Programme of collaboration between the EU and former USSR: this series of small projects starting in 1993 was for the extension of two existing MT systems (one English-German, the other English-Russian) to cover all three languages, and to broaden the English coverage. In collaboration with the Institut für Angewandte Informationsforschung, Universität des Saarlandes, Saarbrücken, and the Institute of Transmission Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences. (12 months, 1995, £3000)

MEG (Multilingual Example-based Generation)

SERC-sponsored project to develop an interactive multilingual example-based avalanche warning messaging system. (3 years, 1991-94, £140k)
Researchers: Ian McLean and Danny Jones
Harold L Somers & Danny Jones (1992) Machine Translation seen as interactive multilingual text generation. Translating and the Computer 13: A marriage of convenience? London: Aslib, 153-165.
H Somers & D Jones (1992) La génération de textes multilingues par un utilisateur monolingue Meta 37, 647-656. [here]
H Somers, I McLean & D Jones (1994) MT seen as multilingual example-based generation. IWMT '94 (Limerick).
H Somers, I McLean & D Jones (1994) Experiments in multilingual example-based generation. CSNLP 1994: 3rd Conference on the Cognitive Science of Natural Language Processing (Dublin).

Rank Xerox

Development of software to support MT activities at Rank Xerox, Welwyn Garden City. This was pioneering work building what later became know as a Translation Memory. (12 months, 1990, £60.5k). Researcher: Jeremy Carroll.


As well as contributing to the project as a member of the UMIST research team, I also had an individual contract to promote the publicity of the project, for about 9 months in 1985-86. I don't remember the value of the contract.
M [sic] Somers (1985) Le projet Eurotra de la Commission des Communautés Européennes. La Traduction automatique "Mythe ou réalité" (Actes du Premier Colloque ITA), Cergy, pp. 17-21.
HL Somers (ed) (1986) Multilingua 5, No.2, Special issue on Eurotra. (Guest Editor); Introduction, pp. 129-130

* Listed here are only projects on which I was PI. Back to top

Harold Somers
School of Informatics
Universty of Manchester
PO Box 88, Manchester M60 1QD
phone: +44/0 161 200 3107

Last updated: 1/05/07