Boy with cerebral palsy strives to inspire others

February 05, 2023 - 07:19
Nguyễn Đức Thuận, a second-year student at VNU Hà Nội-University of Engineering and Technology, was one of six people honored at the Việt Nam Glory event held in Hà Nội in the category of outstanding personalities.
Nguyễn Đức Thuận was one of six people honoured at the Việt Nam Glory event held in Hà Nội last year. — Photo

Nguyễn Đức Thuận, a second-year student at the Hà Nội University of Engineering and Technology (affiliated to the Việt Nam National University, Hà Nội), was one of six people honoured at a Việt Nam Glory event held in Hà Nội in the category of outstanding personalities. Despite being born disadvantaged, 20-year Thuận's journey is one of constant effort and victory over fate. Reporter Thanh Nga speaks with him..

Inner Sanctum: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am 20 years old and a student at the VNU Hà Nội University of Engineering and Technology, and I participate in research at the robotics interaction lab of my university. I am also the administrator of an automated grading website developed based on the open source DMOJ platform.

It is built with the original purpose of creating a learning environment for students who are good at IT at Lê Quý Đôn High School in Đà Nẵng City. Now, the website allows free registration to become an open playground to students who love IT.

Inner Sanctum: Did you have to take the entrance exam or be admitted to the Faculty of Information Technology?

I was one of 144 students who were exempted from the high school graduation exams and directly admitted to university in 2021 as I participated in the regional and international Olympic team selection exams.

Inner Sanctum: Please tell me about your IT-related activities last year?

Last December, I organised the LQDOJ CUP competition, including eight qualifying rounds and one final round taking place in Đà Nẵng.

The contest aimed to hone skills and gain experience for students of the national teams to prepare for the upcoming Việt Nam Olympiad in Informatics event.

Last March, I also participated in making the exam questions of the Informatics Exam of Central Highlands - Central area.

Inner Sanctum: When did you gain this passion for computer science, and how has it helped you?

I have had a passion for computers since grade 4. It has helped me open the door to the world's knowledge, giving me the means to study and communicate with people around me.

Nguyễn Đức Thuận and his mother. — Photo

Inner Sanctum: Can you say something about your parents and how they have helped you?

My parents are wonderful people who always take care of and love me. They always accompany me in life and study.

I have had spastic cerebral palsy since I was born. My parents took me to many hospitals for treatment. Normal people took five steps, whereas I could only take one or two. I would fall all the time, but I always had my parents to support me.

They always encouraged me to try, overcome obstacles in living, and use studying as a ladder to go higher.

Inner Sanctum: Tell us about the AI-based app that you and your friends are researching to help transcribe the voices of people with speech impairments?

Our group is still continuing to perfect the research to be able to integrate the software in smart devices such as phones and computers. Hopefully, the software that we create will help people with pronunciation problems like me to communicate more easily, as well as facing less difficulties in life.

To carry out this project, I have to improve my foreign languages to gain information, research knowledge on AI, and in-depth programming. Currently, we are working on recreating the voice and tones of mute people, people who do not speak clearly or have speech disorders, as well as the elderly and people with disabilities.

In foreign countries, there is much voice conversion software in English, but not in Vietnamese. Due to Việt Nam’s pronunciation, which has various regional dialects, but little data, it is difficult for AI to distinguish words, so our team must still continue to complete the research to solve this problem.

Nguyễn Đức Thuận (third from right) seen at the LQDOJ CUP competition in Đà Nẵng City. — Photo LQDOJ

Inner Sanctum: How did you feel about being recognised by the Việt Nam Glory Awards 2022.

I felt very honoured and happy because this event was organised for a true purpose.

Việt Nam Glory is a special cultural and political event honouring the national spirit, and the love of the motherland, national heroes, exemplary models, enterprises and entrepreneurs with particularly outstanding achievements in the patriotic movement and in the construction and defence of the country.

Inner Sanctum: What are your upcoming plans?

I will continue to develop software for pronunciation and speech reproduction for people with disabilities. At the same time, I will continue to develop our website to support IT learners in Việt Nam. VNS