One aim of the Able-to-Include European project is to make text simplification technology available for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The TALN group at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona is leading the development and adaptation of technology to simplify textual content in Spanish and English, and has already developed tools which will be presented at the IX Scientific Conference on Research on Disabilities in Salamanca, Spain on 19 March 2015.
Automatic text simplification is a technology that adapts the content of a text to the specific needs of particular individuals or target groups, so that the text becomes more readable and understandable for them. Although there are many text characteristics which can be modified in order to make a text easy-to-read and understand, automatic text simplification has usually concentrated on two different tasks: lexical simplification and syntactic simplification, each addressing different sub-problems. Lexical simplification will attempt to either modify the vocabulary of the text by choosing words which are thought to be more appropriate for the reader, or to include appropriate definitions or explanations along the difficult words in the text. However, because most words are ambiguous, selecting an appropriate word replacement is not an easy task.
Syntactic simplification will try to identify in sentences syntactic structures which may hinder readability and comprehension, and, if possible, transform the sentence into a more readable or understandable equivalent. For example, relative or subordinate clauses or passive constructions, which may be very difficult to read by certain people, could be transformed into simpler sentences or into active form.