When someone tries to communicate in sign language with someone who does not understand, it leaves both parties in quite a fix. This might be the solution to it!
Speech impairments have affected more than 30 million people worldwide, and they depend on sign language to communicate. But it can be quite a hassle for them to communicate with someone who is not a sign-language user, and this is something Roy Allela knows too well, reports Business Insider. Roy Allela's six-year-old niece was born deaf and she seemed to find it extremely difficult to communicate with her family since none of them knew sign language. It's been said that necessity is the mother of all inventions, and Roy's need to connect and communicate with his niece led to the invention of the smart gloves that can convert sign language movements into audio speech.
The glove, called Sign-10, processes different letters signed by sign language users and the data is then transmitted to an Android application where it is vocalized. His invention won him recognition and admiration by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, which is the world’s largest organization for mechanical engineers. This recognition is a very prestigious one and was awarded during the 2017 ASME Innovation Showcase competition.
We are beyond ecstatic upon realizing that Kenya’s very own 25-year-old Roy Allela has created a pair of robotic gloves called Sign-IO that functions as a translator for sign-language into speech!#AAAP #Engineering #Technology #Innovation #Children #Kenya #Africa #AI #Robotics pic.twitter.com/Gd5rUpRi4O— Africa As A Platform (@aaapafrica) February 26, 2019
According to The Guardian, the gloves have flex sensors stitched on to each finger. The sensors help with the letter being spelled out with the way its being bent. “My niece wears the gloves, pairs them to her phone or mine, then starts signing and I’m able to understand what she’s saying. Like all sign language users, she’s very good at lip reading, so she doesn’t need me to sign back,” says Allela.
#AfricanInnovation: Roy Allela’s 6yrs old niece was born deaf. She found it difficult to communicate with her family, none of whom knew sign language.— @MacJordan 🇨🇦🇬🇭 (@MacJordaN) January 13, 2019
The 25yrs old Kenyan, invented smart gloves that convert sign language movements into audio speech. #Ingenuity @makerfaire pic.twitter.com/qKm7JqAQ4c
Roy introduced the gloves to people at a special needs school in rural Migori county, south-west Kenya, and feedback from there helped him fix one of the most important aspects of the gloves, which was the speed at which the language was converted into audio. He said, “People speak at different speeds and it’s the same with people who sign: some are really fast, others are slow, so we integrated that into the mobile application so that it’s comfortable for anyone to use it."
The gloves also give the users an option to set the language, gender, and pitch of vocalization through the app, with a 93 percent accuracy. The most attractive feature of the glove is that it can be modified into any style the user wants, be it a Spiderman theme or a princess theme. “It fights the stigma associated with being deaf and having a speech impediment. If the gloves look cool, every kid will want to know why you have them on,” added Roy.
Roy's goal is to provide every special needs schools with at least two pairs of such gloves, as he believes they could be used to help people who suffer from hearing loss. He said, “I was trying to envision how my niece’s life would be if she had the same opportunities as everyone else in education, employment, all aspects of life. The general public in Kenya doesn’t understand sign language so when she goes out, she always needs a translator. Picture over the long term that dependency, how much that plagues or impairs her progress in life … when it affects you personally, you see how hard people have it in life. That’s why I’ve really strived to develop this project to completion."
Then there are kids like 7-year-old Jessica Deegan who decided to learn sign language to converse with deaf children actually performed a whole song with her new skill, reports Metro. Jessica wanted to be inclusive of everyone at the talent show competition as part of her school in West Lothian, Scotland, where she performed the uplifting song This is Me from the hit musical The Greatest Showman. Her performance was so moving that many people in the audience cried, and she even won the first prize for it.
Here’s Jessica with her medal, certificate and chocolate orange. She is trying to hold in her excitement for a picture and quickly after jumped about showing everyone 🥰🥰 pic.twitter.com/L8fRQC2vKz— Michael (@deegan7) February 24, 2019
Her dad Michael Deegan said, "Jessica likes to play with everybody and includes others in the group – it shows everyone how much of a caring child she is. She cares for everyone and wanted to involve something that includes other people and lets others enjoy something different. She had been practicing for a couple of weeks before she had to put her entry in. ‘She was really confident with no nerves and looked forward to it. The family that went along knew what was happening but apart from that no one else knew. Everyone was getting drawn into it and emotionally attached to it – the place went silent. She only had a minute and a half then everybody jumped up in a roar. One of the judges said it brought tears to their eyes while watching it. She’s had a lot of support and messages since." Such a sweet gesture!