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STANDUP joke generator goes to Parliament

The STANDUP project, a collaboration between Dundee, Edinburgh and Aberdeen Universities, has been shortlisted together with five other national assistive technology (AT) research projects as being representative of "the most innovative and exciting AT product and prototype development being carried out in the UK" by the Foundation of Assistive Technology.

The researchers involved in the technology have been invited to showcase STANDUP at the Parliamentary launch of the new assistive technology initiative "ATcare Design and Development Centre" in the House of Commons today (Wednesday, 5 March 2008). 

Due to open in Autumn 08, the ATcare Centre will bridge the gap between university research and developing this research for the market. ATcare has been awarded a grant of £2.35 million by the London Development Agency to develop a London-based national centre of excellence in assistive technology.

The STANDUP project - "System To Augment Non-speakers' Dialogue Using Puns" – has created software which allows children to generate novel puns. These puns are not pre-stored, but are created by the software, using dictionaries and information about words, plus simple rules about the structure of puns. The system was developed with the help of teachers, therapists and adults who use speech generating devices. It lasted three years and was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and supported by the disability organisation, Capability Scotland.

STANDUP has been evaluated with nine young people at Capability Scotland's Corseford School near Glasgow. The young people, who used the system over a ten-week period, regaled their peers, staff, family and neighbours with jokes such as: "What do you call a spicy missile? A hot shot!" Their joy and enthusiasm at entertaining others was inspirational. The children's use of STANDUP also had a beneficial impact on their use of their own communication systems as they were all more eager to communicate generally.

Dr Graeme Ritchie, of the Department of Computing Science at the University of Aberdeen, said: "The STANDUP software makes simple puns by looking for suitable patterns in the words and phrases which are available to it. In this project, the computer acts as a helper to the child, by letting them browse through joke forms, and try out words and phrases."

Dr Annalu Waller, at Dundee University's School of Computing, added: "Many people who use communication aids tend to be passive communicators, responding to questions with one or two word answers. This research shows the importance of providing individuals with novel language. It has been wonderful to see young people with complex communication needs taking ownership of puns and using them to take control of communication."

The STANDUP software is available for FREE from the web:

It is a fully accessible (via mouse, touch screen or one switch scanning) and allows individual customisation for different users (word level, access complexity, symbol support).


For further information, please contact:


Dr Annalu Waller

School of Computing

University of Dundee

Tel: 01382 388223

Mob: 07962427483

Dr Graeme Ritchie

Department of
Computing Science

University of Aberdeen

Tel: 01224 272383

Dr Helen Pain

School of Informatics

University of Edinburgh

Tel: 0131 650 8485






Notes to Editors

Issued by the Communications Team, Office of External Affairs, University of Aberdeen, King's College, Aberdeen. Tel: (01224) 272014.

Issued on: Wednesday 5th of March 2008

Ref: 54standup
Contact: Angela Ferguson

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