By Kuldeep Singh V Rajput
TalkAble is a low-cost assistive technology for people suffering from hearing disability. Hearing impaired people generally use hand sign language to communicate. The main idea of TalkAble is to translate this sign language into speech. This affordable device gives them access to diverse media and opens doors for development of various products that shall empower them in the field of education, employment and quality of life. TalkAble has been developed to be equally applicable and available to users in both developed and developing countries.
The right to speak should not be denied to anyone. It is injustice if we ignore those who are deprived of this invaluable gift. The only means of communication available to vocally disabled individuals is through sign language. Using sign language limits them to their own world of people. This limitation prevents them from interacting with the outer world to share their feelings, creative ideas and the potentials they possess; but very few people understand them. This increases the isolation of deaf and dumb people.
According to the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), approximately 66 percent of Deaf people live in developing countries, where authorities are rarely familiar with their needs and where very few Deaf children have access to employment and education. Only about 10 percent of the world’s Deaf population receives any education at all, and only one percent receives this education in sign language – even though the majority of Deaf people worldwide use sign language in their daily lives. Reflecting this educational disadvantage, unemployment rates are extremely high in the Deaf community. Many nations even deny basic civil rights to their hearing impaired community.
Technology is one way to remove this hindrance and benefit these people. Assistive technologies assist humans in complex task such as recognize sign language and translate it into another form, such as synthesized speech or written form.
Development and Prototype:
TalkAble is an assistive device, whose main idea is to translate sign language into speech. The device (as shown in Figure 1) is in the form of a portable hand glove on which the display along with controller board is installed. The right handed glove is made of fabric, with five sensor boards mounted on the back nail sections of each finger. A controller is programmed to convert the sign language into alphanumeric characters and to display it on a LCD. Further, the obtained text is converted into voice and is given out as the output.
The development cycle followed for the TalkAble project is illustrated in Figure 2. For more information, please see the associated technical paper, and visit our web site http://catbvbcet.wix.com/talkable#!projects/c21kz
Recognition and Collaborations:
The project was supported by the IEEE Engineering Projects In Community Service (EPICS).
I would like to acknowledge my mentor, Dr Uma Mudenagudi, Head Of Department of Electronics and Communication, BVBCET Hubli, India. and head of the Research and Development Center of the institute; Shashank Deshpande, Bachelor in Electronics and Communication from BVBCET, Hubli. India; and the Center for Assistive Technology, BVBCET, Hubli for Collaboration and support.
Kuldeep Singh V Rajput is a Project Associate at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India. He received the B. Tech degree from the B.V. Bhoomaraddi College of Engineering and Technology. His research interests are in the field of VLSI, Computer Vision and Graphics, Haptics, Signal Processing, Biomedical Engineering and Biosensors. Read more