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EASTIN-CL - Crosslingual and Multimodal Search in a Portal for Support of Assisted Living

250432 - Pilot B


At a glance

PSP -2009.5.1 - Machine Translation for the Multilingual Web


The project is support the e-inclusion of disabled and elderly people, by providing crosslingual and multimodal support for accessing information bases on assistive tools and technology.
Recent efforts have linked national assistive technology information bases into a European portal called EASTIN . The objective of EASTIN-CL is to enhance this portal by creating a front-end to make it more accessible, using language technology:

  • Multilingual technology will allow users to search the data in their native language;
  • Multimodal technology will allow them to access the portal not just in written but also in spoken communication.

EASTIN is a European network co-funded by the European Commission as part of its eTEN programme, that offers information on assistive technology to all citizens. The networks’ databases, provided by national partners and linked in a common portal, contain several ten thousands of products, reports, and other information relevant for the domain. The search is guided by a domain ontology which is ISO certified. Even though EASTIN is the most comprehensive web-service on assistive technology in Europe, there are still some drawbacks to overcome:

  • Users must know the structure of the classification system to search successfully; this prevents occasional users from success;
  • The documents are available only in the national language plus (machine-translated versions) English;
  • Access requires skills in keyboard input and display output; no other interaction modes exist. This restricts the access for (sometimes disabled) end users, for whom the technology is intended.


EASTIN-CL completes and improves the multilingual environment of the assistive domain, by offering transparent cross-lingual search, and by easing the access to the EASTIN database content, especially for disabled and elderly people.

The project improves access to assistive information by:

  • providing cross-lingual retrieval and machine translation for both queries and documents. The translation components support Danish, Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian, hitherto not sufficiently supported in the EASTIN framework. Both query translation and result translation will be offered, tuned for the assistive domain;
  • improving the ease-of-use of the interface, to support non-expert users;
  • improving the accessibility to the information base offering audio input and output for some languages.


From a technology point of view, there are two major innovations:

  • transparent search: Users can search the database in their native language, and receive the search results in their native language. They will not notice that the documents are stored in a different language. Transparent search inserts a translation layer into the retrieval process.
  • multimodal access: Searching the database using the speech channel is only slowly emerging, and has not yet found its way into larger applications. EASTIN-CL will try out how such an interaction modality could look like.

The result

EASTIN-CL is making the portal more user-friendly, cross lingual and speech-enabled. The result leads to an improved service with higher visibility in Europe for both professionals and end users. The portal comes with a complete new design of the user interface. While both versions are multilingual and fully accessible, the new version is more ergonomic, contains tabs for the main information items, and contains a field for free text search as well as a button for speech output, to link the EASTIN-CL components. The description fields will be machine-translated on request.

Target group of the project

Target group of EASTIN-CL are first of all professionals in the area of assistive technology (doctors, physiotherapists, manufacturers of assistive devices etc.). They look up the databases of assistive products to which EASTIN-CL provides an interface. The second important group are the end users who want to collect information about certain products and assistive tools, as well as people with disabilities. They have a natural language interface with translation support in case the product descriptions are in foreign language, and they have a speech input and output channel in case of reading / writing disabilities.


The portal will become a showcase for good ontology-based cross lingual search in a relevant social domain. The users – both professionals and end users - will now find information beyond the national settings, and have easier access to all assistive technology available in all Europe. This is particularly relevant for professionals from countries which do not have a sufficiently developed national technology. Better overview of the available technology will lead to better medical service for the patients. The transparent search feature and additional end user support, will lead to an increased traffic on the portal caused by end users who could not access the portal before for language barrier reasons. As a result, it may become more relevant for the vendors / producers of assistive technology to be found on the portal.

Future activities

Apart from conference and workshop presentations, two main dissemination activities as envisaged:

  • a press release, and press campaign, when the EASTIN portal will be re-launched with all language technology components in it. This will be in at the beginning of 2012.
  • a presentation of the complete package at the ICCHP conference (13th. Int. Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs, Linz, July 2012). This is the main conference in the domain. As the complete EASTIN-CL software was not available yet, only components could be presented at REHACARE (Rehacare International Fair in Düsseldorf, September 2011, is the most important trade fair for rehabilitation, prevention, integration and care, and the largest fair for assistive products worldwide). It is planned to have a demonstration of the full portal at the ICCHP conference.



Contact Person:


Name: Gregor Thurmair
Tel: +49 89 896664 0
Fax: + 49 89 88919933
E-mail: g.thurmair
Organisation: Linguatec



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