Electropalatography (EPG) is a technique that evaluates tongue-palate contact during speech production. An artificial palate, embedded with electrodes, fits against the speakerís roof of the mouth is constructed to record these articulatory contact patterns. EPG gives visual display of tongue patterns which could also serve as feedback for people with speech disorders to improve their articulation. Although research has shown that EPG is an effective therapy, it was not available in Scotland until CLEFTNET was established.
CLEFTNET, funded in 1996 by the Scottish Executive Department of Health, provided the cleft palate centres in Scotland with EPG and established electronic links between the centres and Queen Margaret University College (QMUC) in Edinburgh. Articulatory data gathered at the centres are sent to QMUC, where experts conduct detailed analysis leading to precise diagnosis of the speech difficulty and therapy guidelines for use in therapy for the clinicians.
CLEFTNET is also a unique research resource. The database of EPG data allows researchers to study articulation disorders in a larger group than has been possible in the past. The research team have recently secured major funding to extend CLEFTNET to include England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The new project, CLEFTNET UK, began in November 2004.