As a parent of a child with additional needs, nothing makes me happier than hearing about how technology is enriching the lives of children with different abilities and making family life easier. That’s why it’s a pleasure to write this article today about Huawei‘s latest launch. It’s an app called StorySign which has been designed for deaf children and their parents to help these kids learn to read and enjoy stories. Huawei worked with experts and charities from the deaf community, as well as publishing partner Penguin and animation specialists Aardman while building this app.
There are approximately 32 million deaf children in the world and their disability can often make it difficult for them to learn to read. Things that many parents take for granted, such as their children listening to a bedtime story or being able to communicate with their teacher at school and listen to lessons are impossible for deaf children. Signing can help but Sign has no direct English word-for-word translation and this is a huge barrier when learning to read. There are a lack of resources bridging sign language and reading and that’s why StorySign, which utilises AI to create an authentic reading experience, could potentially open up a new world to deaf children.
StorySign launched on 3rd December 2018 and it features the well-known and popular children’s book, Spot the Dog. There’s an avatar called Star who will, with the help of Huawei AI, translate the featured book, page by page, for the children to understand.
Andrew Garrihy, CMO of Huawei Western Europe says, “At Huawei, we believe in the power of AI and that technology can make a positive difference in the world. We created StorySign to help make it possible for families with deaf children to enjoy an enriched story time. We hope that by raising awareness of deaf literacy issues, people will be encouraged to donate to or support one of the fantastic charity partners we are working with across Europe.”
Mark Wheatley, Executive Director of the European Union of the Deaf added, “With StorySign, Huawei is using the power of its AI and innovative technology in a meaningful way. We’re very hopeful that it will make a significant impact in the deaf community, helping more deaf children learn how to read at the same level as hearing children. We also hope the launch of StorySign will support a wider conversation about ensuring equality in every aspect of their lives for deaf people across Europe.”
Huawei consulted with experts from charities and from within the deaf community when creative this app so they could offer a tool that is genuinely useful for deaf children and their carers. It features Image Recognition and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to create the best reading experience possible. Image Recognition allows the smartphone or tablet to be positioned at an angle from the book and the app will still recognise the words perfectly. Optical Character Recognition means the app functions with accuracy. The speed pages are loaded in the app is powered by AI performance so children don’t wait too long to find out what happens next in their chosen story.
The StorySign app is available in 10 markets across Western Europe and is free to download from the Google Play Store. If you would like to know more about the app, you can visit the StorySign website. Donation can also be made via the StorySign campaign hub on Huawei’s website throughout December and all funds raised will support deaf child literacy projects across Europe and help bring more books to StorySign.
Which books do you think would be a good choice for the StorySign app? Let us know in the comments below!