A person with normal hearing has abilities that a deaf person does not. Of course, it’s easier to communicate with people when you can use verbal words with all their nuances. A hearing person can listen for the phoning ringing, the cries of a child or pet or even the smoke alarm. Yet even with this apparent setback, deaf people are changing the world, and in part it’s thanks to how technology helps to change their world.
A recent development in technology to help the hearing impaired is a Windows-based tablet that has the ability to read sign language and translate it into words, both on the screen and via audio. The device will also convert spoken words into text for users to read. MotionSavvy is the California-based company behind this device, which will cost $800 to own. MotionSavvy intends to provide updates to the software and dictionary in this device, which will cost users $20 per month.
It will be some time before anyone can own one of these devices because they’re still in development. However, users who pre-order will be among the first to get their hands on the devices, and the price will drop to $499. The current design is a Uni tablet with outfitted with a Leap Motion sensor. It can read about 300 signs, and MotionSavvy has come this far thanks to a $25,000 grant from Leap Motion. The company plans to relocate to the Bay Area this year to continue its efforts.
Of course, while technology might look different in 2014, it’s not the first time that it’s been used to help those with hearing disabilities. Consider Miracle Ear, the hearing aid that has been around for over 65 years. The device was the first to use an integrated circuit. These hearing aids have used digital technology to help people with hearing impairments more clearly hear the world around them.
Both of these devices help to connect deaf users with the world and people around them. It’s important to provide methods of communication like these, and they don’t just improve little things in a person’s life. All too often, people with hearing impairments are relegated to positions and jobs where they don’t communicate with people. Not only does their disability exclude them, but other people continue that exclusion because they don’t know how to properly communicate with a deaf person.
Hearing aids and digital communication tools such as the MotionSavvy will enable people to more fluently communicate and break down barriers in both directions. It will hopefully provide more options and connections to deaf people in both their personal and professional lifes.
Developments in technology, including the tablet PC in the past several years, mean that MotionSavvy can be a convenient and portable solution to those communication barriers. This tool has few hardware requirements and only requires the user to sign slightly more slowly to ensure the device can understand signs, which are small prices for such a big advancement for the deaf.