LOCATION: Bangalore, India | PROJECT LAUNCHED: 2012
EPICS IN IEEE FUNDING: $1,705 USD
PROJECT OVERVIEW & UPDATES
People with speech and hearing impairments have used sign language for hundreds of years. In fact, signing – which uses combinations of hand movements and body language to convey meaning – helps people to communicate in almost 150 different nations and cultures.
But one huge barrier has long stood in the way: Most people who can speak and hear normally don’t understand sign language. As a result, speech and hearing-impaired people are often unable to function independently in routine activities, whether it’s conducting simple transactions at the bank or post office, asking for directions in unfamiliar places or describing physical symptoms to a physician.
In 2012, three IEEE Student Members at RNS Institute of Technology in Bangalore, India, set out to change things. With an initial grant of $1,305 from EPICS in IEEE, the trio proposed designing an inexpensive portable device that would translate basic sign language into text and audio in real time – and bridge the communication gap between those unable to speak or hear with those who do. Educators at RV Integrated School for the Hearing Impaired, also in Bangalore, were enthusiastic about participating in the project.