Michelle Therrien Attends Google Conference

Michelle Therrien at the Google office in San Francisco.Earlier this month Assistant Professor in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders Michelle Therrien was invited to a workshop at Google in San Francisco. The workshop brought experts in speech, language, and neurology together with Google researches, engineers, and product managers to discuss recent advances in machine learning for people with disabilities. Therrien’s background with computational linguistics and her current research regarding improving the quality of life of individuals with disabilities made her a perfect fit.

During the conference, Google shared information about the accessibility features they have been working on. Researchers in multiple fields also presented on topics relating to machine learning and accessibility. Many of the presentations focused on using technology to increase the quality of life for adults with disabilities. “I felt that my role was to listen to the presentations and then consider the potential impact of similar technologies on children with disabilities,” says Therrien. In small group and one-on-one interactions, Therrien was able to share the experiences of children with disabilities with software engineers from Google and other researchers.

“It so rarely happens that such a diversity of professions come together around a common theme of helping people and improving quality of life through technology,” says Therrien. “I left with ideas for future research and for student collaboration across our college (CCI) and the university.”