Well. Just a week after Mark Nelson wrote about how technological advances and the rise of voice recognition could leave deaf people behind – in his ‘Peak Deaf Access’ theory, this story appears in the Metro.
Apparently, a portable sign language translator app has been invented, that will allow deaf people “to talk to everyone.”
The article says that “sign language can be used in front of a camera built into a laptop, tablet or phone and the app will instantly translate gestures into text on the screen.”
(“Gestures”? Surely they mean “signs.”)
The app will be available in late 2013 and is said to be affordable. The makers claim the app has a customisation tool and can cater for regional variations.
Sounds amazing – I’d love to hear from anyone who has tried this out.
The big question for deaf people will be ‘how well will it actually work?’
Bearing in mind the complexity of sign language, taking in facial expressions, hand movements and body language (for starters), plus the difficulty companies have had in the past of creating equivalent systems, this statement from the article: “It will work on all types of phones – no matter how cheap they are, as long as they have a camera” doesn’t fill me with confidence.
But I’m ready to be proved wrong.
Update: this BBC news article offers further background on the development of the App
By Charlie Swinbourne, Editor
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne. Find out how to write for us by clicking here, how to follow us by clicking here, and read our disclaimer here.
The site exists thanks to our supporters. Check them out below:
- Signature: Leading awarding body for BSL qualifications
- Ai-Media: Remote captioning. Find out about 6 awesome accessibility apps!
- Bellman & Symfon: home alerting solutions
- Deaf Umbrella: sign language interpreting and communications support
- Eyewitness Media: TV and film from a Deaf perspective
- Appa: Communication services for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people
- SignLive: Online video interpreting for Deaf people
- SignVideo: Instant BSL video interpreting online
- 121 Captions: captioning and speech-to-text services
- The National Theatre: Captioned and BSL accessible theatre in London
- Doncaster School for the Deaf: education for Deaf children
- Signworld: Learn BSL online!
- Action Deafness Communications: sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting
- BSLcourses.co.uk: Provider of online BSL courses
- Association of Notetaking Professionals: The professional body representing Electronic and Manual Notetakers
- Sign Solutions: communication support, training and translation
- InterpretersLive: On demand BSL video interpretation
- Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton: education for Deaf children
- Lipspeaker UK: specialist lipspeaking support
- Ozen: Australian hearing aid specialists
- Elmfield School, Bristol: Inclusive education for Deaf pupils
- deafPLUS: BSL advice helpline
- Exeter Deaf Academy: education for Deaf children
- Royal Shakespeare Company: Captioned and BSL interpreted performances (see dates here)
- Royal School for the Deaf, Derby: Residential education for deaf children
- RAD Tax Advice: Tax and Tax Credit info for Deaf people
- Performance Interpreting: BSL interpreting at concerts
- National Deaf Children's Society: The leading charity for deaf children
- Signed Culture: Advocating for BSL access to arts and culture
- SignHealth: healthcare charity for Deaf people
- CJ Interpreting: communication support in BSL
- British Society for Mental Health and Deafness: Promoting positive mental health for deaf people