Accommodation | Call for Papers | Dates | Description | Organisers | PC | Proceedings | Programme | Venue

Paper deadline:

Mar 25, 2012
Apr 24, 2012
May 4, 2012
Jun 7, 2012

NAACL HLT 2012 PITR Workshop
The First Workshop on Predicting and Improving Text Readability for Target Reader Populations
June 7, 2012

Predicting and Improving Text Readability for Target Reader Populations Workshop was held in conjunction with the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics - Human Language Technologies (NAACL HLT) 2012 conference, 4 - 8 June, 2012, at Le Centre Sheraton Montréal 1201, boul. René-Lévesque ouest, Montréal, (Québec), Canada, H3B-2L7.

This workshop is an ACL Special Interest Group on Speech and Language Processing for Assistive Technologies (SIG-SLPAT) sponsored workshop.


Proceedings are available on the ACL Anthology

PITR2012 Proceedings




How readable is the output of systems that generate or reformulate language? What makes language easy or difficult to read for different types of readers? How can existing text be reformulated to improve information access?

The last few years have seen a resurgence of work on text simplification and readability. Examples include learning lexical and syntactic simplification operations from Simple English Wikipedia revision histories (e.g., Zhu et al. 2010, Woodsend and Lapata 2011, Biran et al. 2011), exploring complex lexico-syntactic simplification requiring morphological changes as well as constituent reordering (Siddharthan 2010, 2011), simplifying mathematical form (Power and Williams, 2012), applications to second language learners (Peterson 2007) and low literacy adults (e.g., Gasperin et al. 2010), attempts to measure linguistic quality (Pitler et al. 2010, Nenkova et al. 2010), analyses of the use of text modification for deaf students (e.g., O'Neill 2005), and NLG research on summarising technical data for lay people (e.g., Mahamood and Reiter 2011).

This will be a cross-disciplinary workshop bringing together researchers in computational linguistics, psycholinguistics and education with an interest in text reformulation, generation of texts at different levels of difficulty, and readability measures. We solicit papers on reformulation (text-to-text), generation of readable language from data (data-to-text), user evaluations of language simplification strategies, and studies on the readability of text. We would like contributions on how to simplify:

  1. Lexis and Syntax
  2. Numerical quantities and logical relations
  3. Discourse Properties (making text more transparent, etc.)

We are particularly interested in research aimed at assessing the readability of machine-generated text, simplifying texts, and assessing the accessibility of texts for specific target readers such as:

  1. Adults with poor literacy
  2. 2nd language learners
  3. People with language deficits (Aphasia, Deafness, Neurodegeneration, etc.)
  4. Lay readers accessing technical material


Mar 25, 2012: Deadline for paper submission
Apr 24, 2012: Notification of acceptance
May 4, 2012: Camera-ready deadline
Jun 7, 2012: Workshop date


Please note: the workshop may overlap with people arriving for the Montréal Grand Prix Formula 1 race (Jun 10). This could make hotel space a bit tight, so if you are going to the workshop, you might want to book early.

Accommodation details are on the main conference site


Sandra Williams, The Open University, UK.
Advaith Siddharthan, University of Aberdeen, UK.
Ani Nenkova, University of Pennsylvania, USA.


Gregory Aist, Iowa State University, USA.
John Carroll, University of Sussex, UK.
Kevyn Collins-Thompson, Microsoft Research (Redmond), USA.
Siobhan Devlin, University of Sunderland, UK.
Noémie Elhadad, Columbia University, USA.
Micha Elsner, University of Edinburgh, UK.
Richard Evans, University of Wolverhampton, UK.
Lijun Feng, Columbia University, USA.
Caroline Gasperin, TouchType Ltd., UK.
Albert Gatt, University of Malta, Malta.
Pablo Gervás, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain.
Iryna Gurevych, Technische Universitat Darmstadt, Germany.
Raquel Hervás, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain.
Véronique Hoste, University College Ghent, Belgium.
Matt Huenerfauth, The City University of New York (CUNY), USA.
Iustina Ilisei, University of Wolverhampton, UK.
Tapas Kanungo, Microsoft, USA.
Mirella Lapata, University of Edinburgh, UK.
Annie Louis, University of Pennsylvania, USA.
Ruslan Mitkov, University of Wolverhampton, UK.
Hitoshi Nishikawa, NTT, Japan.
Mari Ostendorf, University of Washington, USA.
Ehud Reiter, University of Aberdeen, UK.
Lucia Specia, University of Wolverhampton, UK.
Irina Temnikova, University of Wolverhampton, UK.
Ielka van der Sluis, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.


Biran, O., S. Brody, and N. Elhadad. 2011. Putting it Simply: a Context-Aware Approach to Lexical Simplification. ACL 2011.

Gasperin, C., E. Maziero, & S. Alusio. 2010. Challenging choices for text simplification. Proc. Computational Processing of the Portuguese Language.

Mahamood, S. and E. Reiter. 2011. Generating Affective Natural Language for Parents of Neonatal Infants. Proc. ENLG 2011.

Nenkova, A., J. Chae, A. Louis and E. Pitler. 2010. Structural Features for Predicting the Linguistic Quality of Text: Applications to Machine Translation, Automatic Summarization and Human-Authored Text. In E Krahmer and M Theune, editors, Empirical Methods in Natural Language Generation: Data-oriented Methods and Empirical Evaluation.

O'Neill, R., 2005. Should we modify English language for deaf learners? International Perspectives on Language Support, Cheltenham: Direct Learn Services Ltd (e-book)

Petersen, S. 2007. Natural language processing tools for reading level assessment and text simplification for bilingual education. Ph.D. thesis, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

Pitler, E., A. Louis and A. Nenkova. 2010. Automatic Evaluation of Linguistic Quality in Multi-Document Summarization. Proc. ACL 2010.

Power, R. and S. Williams. 2012. Generating numerical approximations. Computational Linguistics, Volume 38, No.1.

Siddharthan, A. 2010. Complex lexico-syntactic reformulation of sentences using typed dependency representations. Proc. INLG 2010.

Siddharthan, A. 2011. Text Simplification using Typed Dependencies: A Comparision of Different Generation Strategies. Proc. ENLG 2011.

Woodsend, K., & M. Lapata. 2011. Learning to Simplify Sentences with Quasi-Synchronous Grammar and Int. Programming. Proc. EMNLP 2011.

Zhu, Z., D. Bernhard, & I. Gurevych. 2010. A monolingual tree-based translation model for sentence simplification. Proc. COLING 2010.

Last modified: June 2013, S.H.Williams

Keynote Speaker

Kevyn Collins-Thompson

Enriching the Web with Readability Metadata
Dr Kevyn Collins-Thompson, Microsoft Research, Redmond, WA.

Accepted Papers

Toward Determining the Comprehensibility of Machine Translations.
Tucker Maney, Linda Sibert, Dennis Perzanowski, Kalyan Gupta and Astrid Schmidt-Nielsen

Towards Automatic Lexical Simplification in Spanish: An Empirical Study.
Biljana Drndarevic and Horacio Saggion

Building Readability Lexicons with Unannotated Corpora.
Julian Brooke, Vivian Tsang, David Jacob, Fraser Shein and Graeme Hirst

Making Readability Indices Readable.
Sara Tonelli, Ke Tran Manh and Emanuele Pianta

The Contribution of NLP and Machine Learning to Readability Studies.
Thomas François and Eleni Miltsakaki

Offline Sentence Processing Measures for testing Readability with Users.
Advaith Siddharthan and Napoleon Katsos

Graphical Schemes May Improve Readability but not Understandibility for People with Dyslexia.
Luz Rello, Ricardo Baeza-Yates, Horacio Saggion and Eduardo Graells

Comparing human versus automatic feature extraction for fine-grained elementary readability assessment.
Yi Ma, Ritu Singh, Eric Fosler-Lussier and Robert Lofthus