Brought to you by Huawei
We LOVE this app.
Today is International Day of Sign Languages – a day to celebrate Deaf unity and raising awareness of the issues Deaf people face in their everyday lives.
There are almost 104,000 people in Ireland identified as being deaf, hard of hearing, or deafened, many of whom are children. In Ireland, there are around 2000 children with disabling hearing loss attending school. These children are going through the same learning process as every other child, except they must overcome some significant extra hurdles. Reading is one of those hurdles.
Learning to read can be difficult for any child, but for children who are severely or profoundly deaf, it can be an overwhelming challenge.
Even though parents of Deaf children spend much more time on average reading to their children than parents of hearing children do (67 minutes compared with just 27 minutes), statistics show that most Deaf 16-year-olds have an average reading age of nine years.
That’s where StorySign comes in.
Global tech company Huawei launched this free mobile app last year with the aim of making it easier for Deaf children to learn to read. The app uses Huawei’s mobile AI technology to translate popular children’s books into Irish Sign Language. Huawei worked with local charities under the European Union of the Deaf, publishing partner Penguin, and animation specialists Aardman to develop the app.
The app has a really cute, easy-to-use interface where Star, the friendly signing avatar, reads along with our kids and signs any sentences they want to know. All the kids have to do is hold up a phone or tablet in front of the page they’re reading from one of the books in the StorySign collection and the sentence will pop up in English with Star standing beside, signing it out.
The app has been doing wonderfully over the past year – it has been downloaded over 40,000 times since its December 2018 launch – and Huawei just held a fun family event at Dublin Zoo to celebrate their continued investment in the StorySign partnership as well as a launch of four new books to the app.
Huawei hosted local media, supporters of the StorySign initiative in Ireland, and children from the Cabra Deaf Choir for a fun-filled day of storytelling and activities. They learnt about the development of the app, how it’s getting on so far, and Huawei’s plans for it in the future. As well as the four new books, Huawei also announced the launch of the app on iOS, making it available to even more families with Deaf children regardless of which smartphone they own.
What the future holds
Byron Maxi, Country Director of Huawei’s Consumer Business Group in Ireland, said:
“At Huawei, we recognised an opportunity to use our leading AI technology to make the world a better place – that is why in 2018 we created StorySign, which has proven to be valued by the families that use it. This year we are continuing to grow and develop the app so that children can learn to read at their own pace, opening up the world of books and enriching those magical moments during story time.”
Huawei has also been working closely with the Irish Deaf Society throughout the StorySign campaign to raise awareness of deaf literacy issues and develop the app as a long-term resource that grows over time and continues to benefit the Deaf community.
In future months, Huawei plans to add more sign languages, make StorySign available in more countries around the world and add more books to the collection. Their vision for StorySign is to translate any words into sign language in real-time, making it easier for both children and adults worldwide to learn and develop their reading skills.
We are absolutely loving this app so far and we’re excited to see what else Huawei has in store for it. Anything that makes our kids’ lives easier is a-okay in our books (see what we did there?).
Brought to you by Huawei