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Interdisciplinary Research
Spotlight on Dr. Jinjun Xiong 
Empire Innovation Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University at Buffalo
Research Focus 
Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), Speech & Language Services, Screening, Intervention

How the Research Links to the DEC Recommended Practices 
Assessment, Instructional practices, and Interactions: Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) enhanced methods to automate some of the assessment processes and improve the quality of assessment for the purpose of enabling early screening, monitoring child progress, informing intervention, and measuring child outcomes. Advanced A.I. technologies will be developed to provide customized instructional practices for children with or at risk for disabilities and foster sensitive and responsive social interactions for children.
Researcher Biography
Dr. Jinjun Xiong (he/him), is scientific director, co-director, and co-PI for AI4ExceptionalEd. He is the SUNY Empire Innovation Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University at Buffalo ( Dr. Xiong's research interests are on across-stack A.I. systems research, which includes A.I. applications, algorithms, tooling and computer architectures. Many of his research results have been adopted in IBM’s products and tools. He published more than 150 peer-reviewed papers in top AI conferences and systems conferences. His publication won 8 Best Paper Awards and 8 Nominations for Best Paper Awards.
Featured Research: Transforming Education for Children with Speech and Language Processing Challenges 
National AI Institute for Exceptional Education, (2023, Jan 15). Transforming Education for Children with Speech and Language Processing Challenges,
A Summary of the Research Focus
The National AI Institute for Exceptional Education (AI4ExceptionalEd) is a National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Institute led by the University at Buffalo (along with other eight universities) and funded by the National Science Foundation and the Institute of Education Sciences of the US Department of Education. The AI4ExceptionalEd Institute aims to advance AI technologies to help speech language pathologists (SLP), teachers and other professionals to practice at their full potential, ensuring no child in need of speech and language services is left behind. Currently, nearly 3.4 million children, more than half of those served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), require speech and language (S&L) services. These children face communication challenges that place them at risk for suboptimal social-emotional and academic outcomes. An alarming shortage of SLPs, combined with delays in identification of needs and unmet services during the COVID- 19 pandemic, has likely exacerbated this gap. The Institute will develop AI technologies complemented by human expertise to inform two innovative solutions: the AI Screener and the AI Orchestrator. The AI Screener is an edge-based solution that will be initially deployed in early childhood classrooms. It will analyze video and audio streams of children’s classroom interactions, derive conventional speech and language measures used by SLPs, and assess novel and hard to obtain automaticity measures. The AI Orchestrator is a superset of the AI Screener with its main application in the public-school classrooms. It will help SLPs, teachers, and other special service providers to administer a wide range of evidence- based interventions and assess their effects on meeting children’s IEP learning targets. At the core of the Orchestrator is a robust multi-agent reinforcement learning framework that can evaluate the potential benefits of different intervention practices and recommend those most appropriate for each child. The development of both AI Screener and AI Orchestrator will be iterative with multiple phases, and we will partner with SLPs, teachers, and other special service providers to ensure our A.I. design process is inclusive with all voices heard.
Practitioners might recommend that pregnant people experiencing stress engage in some mindfulness activities. We also think that practitioners who work with stressed, pregnant people can discuss strategies they could use to improve their stress levels that might also have an effect on their baby. Thus, the caregiver can improve their own emotional health and that of their baby.
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