Kids are the future and we need to keep developing technology that will allow them to develop. This case is even more poignant if children have a disability that will impede their learning. Examples of this include deafness, and this is an area where technology can be particularly helpful.
Now, I have no actual experience of a child with this disability but I have met many adults that are deaf or suffer from partial hearing loss. You can see the effects of their stymied development particularly with speech. It is a fundamental aspect of their development, so I find it heartwarming that tech companies are helping to fund research and use their collective skillsets to help develop services that will help to overcome these sometimes invisible boundaries.
Storysign is one such organisation. Here is a video of what they are doing to help …
Huawei has worked with the Brittish Deaf Association to help develop this app/service to give deaf children the ability to see the words from their storybooks interpreted into sign language via a friendly and relatable character. It uses the AI functionality afforded by the latest generation chipsets found in Android phones to break down the physical barrier presented by paper copy books.
The character has been developed by Huawei and the StorySign, who in turn were assisted by Aardman Animations. She will sign out the words on the page allowing the children to follow along with the story. This, in turn, will allow them to be more comfortable using the spoken word. The whole idea of Star (the animated character) is to help and assist the child where needed.
With Star being cartoon-like it makes her more affable to young children who see here as a friend or elder sibling rather than something that is annoying.
Currently the app has one book per country and 4 new books will be released this coming summer. Huawei is continuing to fund and develop story sign in conjunction with the Brittish Deaf Association. upon its initial release Huawei were encouraging people to donate to this project via the Story Sign Hub on the Huwaei website. Now that things are moving on, Huawei have continued their investment with an additional £500K to take this project tocthe next level and help get the additional books setup on the app.
I think that this is a great service and one that I would love to see more companies get involved in. In this age of enabling technology, it is important that we focus our efforts on areas that will help improve the lives of everyone particularly our children as they are after all our future.
If you wish to make a donation to the development of this then you can still do so by going to the StorySign website.
LONDON, UK, 21st February 2019 – Huawei, the global technology leader, has announced today that it will continue to invest in its StorySign campaign to help deaf children learn to read, with a pledge of £500K in to its partnership with the European Union of the Deaf. As part of its continued commitment Huawei will also fund an additional four new books to add to the StorySign library in 2019.
Pioneered by Huawei, the StorySign app was first launched in December 2018 to help enrich story time for deaf children and their parents. The app’s friendly avatar ‘Star’ translates selected children’s books into sign language in real time, creating a seamless reading experience for deaf children and their parents. The word translations from Star help parents and children to learn to read and sign together, at their own pace, opening up the world of books and enriching those magical moments during story time. With one book currently available in each country⃰, the four new books will be released this summer.
Many of the world’s 32 million deaf children struggle to read; through StorySign Huawei is raising awareness of deaf literacy to a wider audience and hopes to inspire even more people to get involved as the project evolves. At launch, Huawei encouraged people to donate via the StorySign campaign hub on the Huawei website, with all money raised supporting deaf child literacy projects across Europe. Now, Huawei’s focus is on ensuring that StorySign becomes a long-term resource that grows over time and continues to benefit the deaf community.
“At Huawei, we believe that when you bring together human imagination with the power of our AI technology, we can make the world an even better place,” says Walter Ji, President of Huawei’s Western Europe Consumer Business Group. “The overwhelming response to StorySign has ensured we can put our long-term vision into motion and we hope we can inspire others to get involved. We want to continue to explore the potential StorySign has to become a wider educational tool, revolutionising the way we teach sign language using technology and breaking down everyday barriers between communities.”
Mark Wheatley, Executive Director, European Union of the Deaf, added: “The support that the European Union of the Deaf and the National Association of the Deaf have received to date from the StorySign partnership has had a genuine impact on families across Europe, and we want to continue collaborating with Huawei to support the future development of StorySign. As a learning tool, the app not only helps deaf children learn and enjoy how to read, but also helps parents learn how to sign – it has the potential to redefine our understanding of how we most effectively teach and engage with sign language, not only for families with deaf children, but also the wider community that are keen to develop a basic knowledge of sign language.”
StorySign can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store and the Huawei App Gallery in ten markets across Western Europe. For more information on how to get involved, please visit http://www.storysign.com