Deaf & Hard of Hearing

Now people with hearing disabilities voices will be heard. Two Turkish scientists have created a prototype of “talking gloves” that can translate sign language to spoken language. The gloves, invented by Elif Saygi Bavunoglu, computer engineer and her husband, Harun Bavunoglu, a Ph.D. student in mathematics and computer science, were chosen as a one of the final project at New Ideas New Businesses. New Ideas New Businesses is Turkey’s first and largest technology-based entrepreneurship competition by Middle East Technical University.

Jacoti launched the world’s first CE approved medical device standalone hearing aid, which is a wireless audio streaming technology for complex listening situations.

Jacoti Lola uses standard wireless networks and its session requires a speaker and listener to launch the applications. This eliminates the inconvenience of purchasing dedicated hardware. Users just download the software and begin using it.

People with hearing disabilities can now benefit from Lola streaming enhanced, cd-quality audio into classrooms, meetings, auditoriums, cars, and any other complex listening situation.

Fuze, which offers a rich visual experience, has enabled students with hearing disabilities who are in different locations learn together. For example, nursing students with hearing disabilities who are interning at a hospital can remotely attend classes.

Among the latest universities to adopt Fuze and help faculty and students come together through cloud-based video collaboration are Georgetown Law School, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Saint Louis University, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Gallaudet University.

New, more comprehensive rules for TV closed captioning was unanimously approved. The approval will ensure that viewers who are deaf and hard of hearing have full access to programming and resolved concerns from deaf and hard of hearing communities to improve captioning quality. Moreover, it provides much needed guidance to video programming distributors and programmers.

Included in the new requirements are:

  • Accurate: Captions must match the spoken words in the dialogue and convey background noises and other sounds to the fullest extent possible.
  • Synchronous: Captions must coincide with their corresponding spoken words and sounds to the greatest extent possible and must be displayed on the screen at a speed that can be read by viewers.
  • Complete: Captions must run from the beginning to the end of the program to the fullest extent possible.
  • Properly placed: Captions should not block other important visual content on the screen, overlap one another, or run off the edge of the video screen.

The Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act was announced by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) on February 14, 2014. It is the most comprehensive special education legislation for students with visual or hearing disabilities to date.

"Right now, our schools are not prepared to help children who are visually impaired or hearing impaired develop to their fullest potential, and we are determined to change that," explains Paul Schroeder, vice president of programs and policy at AFB. "H.R. 4040 would provide vital resources and establish requirements to help students with visual or hearing impairments excel in the classroom, at home, and in their communities."

Read more on the landmark legislation

Six designers from Asia University won one of the 2013 Red Dot Design Concept Awards for their Sign Language Ring design. The set of rings and a bracelet detects the motions of sign language and speaks the words being signed. Moreover, it translates spoken word to text promising to revolutionize communication between the deaf who use sign and hearing people who do not.

There are some in the deaf community skeptical about the extent of its usefulness and do not see it as a replacement for a live interpreter. However, there are circumstances when an interpreter is not available that the devise would offer convenience.

Guillaume Chastel, senior lecture in the American Sign Language Department at the University of Rochester in New York, said in an interview with ABC News, "We do use gestures or write notes ... [but] writing back and forth takes so long. If you're doing something basic and you can throw on these bracelets, that would be a good option."  

Read more on the new rings that read Sign Language out loud.

Early in 2014, Southwest Airlines will introduce closed captioning to its inflight wireless video entertainment. This will make the airline among the first to take this step toward a more inclusive experience for travelers with disabilities.  

Southwest manager inflight product development, Angela Vargo, told Runway Girl Network, on the sidelines of the APEX Technology Committee conference in Newport Beach, California., “We’re working with Major League Baseball Advanced Media, which delivers our TV and video to the aircraft and they have to implement [CC] on their end. They’ll do all our video, both live and cached.”

Read more about Closed Captioning on Southwest Airlines on the Runway Girl Network website.

By the end of this week a new app that helps people with hearing disabilities book cabs more easily and enhance their communication with drivers will be released on Windows phones. It took 12 months for Dubai Taxi Corporation, Microsoft and the Community Development Authority (CDA) to develop this free tool. Users will now have the ability to order taxis, track their trip, calculate their fair and talk to the drivers using pre-programmed voice commands.

As someone who uses Assistive Technology (AT) to make it through her day, I’m telling you, you non-AT users can get pretty… weird. Something about interacting with an assistive technology (AT) user like me causes some normally very composed and astute people to lose a bit of their cool. I get it. I’m sure when I roll up in my wheelchair not in full control of my own body and chatting with my mom using my word board, I can catch the average bear off guard.

Among the four million Australians with disabilities many cannot access apps, websites or digital television content that is available to the rest of the nation. Minister Assisting for the Digital Economy, Senator Kate Lundy, says that a re-elected Labor government would support new laws that ensure more disabled people can access websites and digital content.

ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin spoke at the Australian Communication Consumer Action Network’s M-Enabling Conference on Wednesday and called for new laws mandating minimum accessibility standards for websites, digital content and television. She referred to the 21st Century Communication and Video Accessibility Act in the US, which will ensure most television programming in the US is available on network catch-up services, and on commercial video-on-demand services such as iTunes, will have captions by March 2014. Read more about support for digital accessibility in Australia.

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