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Kenyan duo create app for persons with hearing impairment

Communication for the deaf   -  
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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.

Africanews correspondent in Kenya, Ronald Ngak reports that very few people in the public sphere in the country have the ability to communicate and interpret sign language and this has further alienated those with hearing impairment.

To open up the communication world to the deaf, Elly Savatia and Lumona Mulengwa together with their team at Veezaviz have developed an assistive technology referred to as “Echonoma”.

The app they say helps to facilitate communication between the hearing community and those with hearing impairment.

Elly Savatia is the chief excecutive officer at Veezaviz.

"We’ve built the first of its kind, a platform that is leveraging the power of AI machine learning to bridge the communication barrier between these two groups and our technology is ensuring that they are able to access and communicate in their immediate environment" he says.

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

Lumona Mulengwa works alongside him. "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" Mulengwa explained.

“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 hearing person can use this one for translation to sign language. So they can either voice out or type.

Like for any other innovation, the duo said they have experienced many challenges during data collection and training the software to encode signs from different people. But the work continues and will not stop until they are able to give more and more people with haearing impairmentm a chance for communication.

Ronald Agak Reporting for Africanews from Nairobi in Kenya.

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