Jacki O’Neill


2022

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Global Readiness of Language Technology for Healthcare: What Would It Take to Combat the Next Pandemic?
Ishani Mondal | Kabir Ahuja | Mohit Jain | Jacki O’Neill | Kalika Bali | Monojit Choudhury
Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought out both the best and worst of language technology (LT). On one hand, conversational agents for information dissemination and basic diagnosis have seen widespread use, and arguably, had an important role in fighting against the pandemic. On the other hand, it has also become clear that such technologies are readily available for a handful of languages, and the vast majority of the global south is completely bereft of these benefits. What is the state of LT, especially conversational agents, for healthcare across the world’s languages? And, what would it take to ensure global readiness of LT before the next pandemic? In this paper, we try to answer these questions through survey of existing literature and resources, as well as through a rapid chatbot building exercise for 15 Asian and African languages with varying amount of resource-availability. The study confirms the pitiful state of LT even for languages with large speaker bases, such as Sinhala and Hausa, and identifies the gaps that could help us prioritize research and investment strategies in LT for healthcare.

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Language Patterns and Behaviour of the Peer Supporters in Multilingual Healthcare Conversational Forums
Ishani Mondal | Kalika Bali | Mohit Jain | Monojit Choudhury | Jacki O’Neill | Millicent Ochieng | Kagnoya Awori | Keshet Ronen
Proceedings of the Thirteenth Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

In this work, we conduct a quantitative linguistic analysis of the language usage patterns of multilingual peer supporters in two health-focused WhatsApp groups in Kenya comprising of youth living with HIV. Even though the language of communication for the group was predominantly English, we observe frequent use of Kiswahili, Sheng and code-mixing among the three languages. We present an analysis of language choice and its accommodation, different functions of code-mixing, and relationship between sentiment and code-mixing. To explore the effectiveness of off-the-shelf Language Technologies (LT) in such situations, we attempt to build a sentiment analyzer for this dataset. Our experiments demonstrate the challenges of developing LT and therefore effective interventions for such forums and languages. We provide recommendations for language resources that should be built to address these challenges.

2021

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A Linguistic Annotation Framework to Study Interactions in Multilingual Healthcare Conversational Forums
Ishani Mondal | Kalika Bali | Mohit Jain | Monojit Choudhury | Ashish Sharma | Evans Gitau | Jacki O’Neill | Kagonya Awori | Sarah Gitau
Proceedings of the Joint 15th Linguistic Annotation Workshop (LAW) and 3rd Designing Meaning Representations (DMR) Workshop

In recent years, remote digital healthcare using online chats has gained momentum, especially in the Global South. Though prior work has studied interaction patterns in online (health) forums, such as TalkLife, Reddit and Facebook, there has been limited work in understanding interactions in small, close-knit community of instant messengers. In this paper, we propose a linguistic annotation framework to facilitate analysis of health-focused WhatsApp groups. The primary aim of the framework is to understand interpersonal relationships among peer supporters in order to help develop NLP solutions for remote patient care and reduce burden of overworked healthcare providers. Our framework consists of fine-grained peer support categorization and message-level sentiment tagging. Additionally, due to the prevalence of code-mixing in such groups, we incorporate word-level language annotations. We use the proposed framework to study two WhatsApp groups in Kenya for youth living with HIV, facilitated by a healthcare provider.