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“Echonoma”, Kenya's assistive technology for the hearing impaired

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Communication is important in expression of one’s thoughts, desires and feelings to other parties but this has been a great challenge for people with hearing impairment.

Very few people in the public sphere in Kenya have the ability to communicate in and interpret sign language and this has further alienated those with hearing impairment.

To open up to the communication world to the deaf, Elly Savatia and Lumona Mulengwa together with their team at Veezaviz have developed an assistive technology known as “Echonoma” to facilitate communication between the hearing community and those with hearing impairment.

Chief executive officer of Veezaviz, Elly Savatia explained that the innovation is mainly to break the communication barrier "between these two groups and our technology is ensuring that they are able to access and communicate in their immediate environment. "

The innovation aims to promote confidentiality in communication between the deaf and hearing community especially where sensitive information is involved.

And also, it can be used in areas like hospitals, banks where sensitive information are shared where you can’t have a third party there because you can’t share your bank PIN or something like that if you are a deaf person. Lumona mulengwa, chief technical officer of veezaviz added.

“Echonoma” has its translations in English and decodes Kenyan sign language to either audio or text.

The application has two major options, so there is that one translating from sign language and there is the next option which is translating to sign language, so the one with a hearing impairment can use the one for translation to sign language.

Like any other innovation the duo also experienced some challenges during data collection and training the software to encode signs from different people.

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