Deaf Australia CEO Kyle Miers has hailed the success of the Huawei developed StorySign technology in an address to the National Press Club in Canberra – and has called for additional funding to help increase the usage of similar new technologies to support greater numbers of deaf Australians.
StorySign is a free mobile app that aims to help deaf children read by translating the text from selected books into sign language such as our local Auslan platform. Through the power of AI and augmented reality, StorySign brings these books to life and helps deaf children enjoy story time.
In an address sponsored by Huawei – a longtime supporter of Deaf Australia – the CEO told the audience that since partnering with Huawei on launching StorySign last December that StorySign had helped bring families with deaf children closer together.
“StorySign encourages interaction between family members and the deaf child using Auslan, by reading popular children’s books together,” he said.
“Deaf people using Auslan are increasingly using smart phones/ tablets to participate meaningfully in the community.
“However, these technologies require our resourcefulness and ingeniousness to make participation happen, such as utilising several applications and devices which, unfortunately, cost more, just to meet basic communication needs.”
Accordingly, Miers called for additional funding of nearly $90 million per year to help improve outcomes for the deaf community by not only strengthening the capacity to deliver Auslan supported programs but also investing in making sure that deaf Australians can access the technologies that can help them.
“The use of communication technology means that technology must be provided alongside the necessary capacity to achieve its purpose,” he said.
“This means that a simple thing like the ability to purchase and access batteries, connection/ connectivity, applications, subscriptions, upgrades or other requirements is needed without imposing undue hardship for the person, otherwise the person is in possession of technological resources but not able to effectively use them.”
Attending the National Press Club event Lisa Connors, Manager Corporate Relations and Programs at Huawei Australia, said that Huawei was proud to have played a part in helping deaf Australians with technology such as StorySign.
“We know that the deaf community often struggles with accessing content to address children’s literacy development needs,” she said.
“With the StorySign app now compatible with Auslan, Huawei is making digital tools accessible to Australian children and we are investing in local research to support a wider conversation about ensuring equality in every aspect of their lives for people in the deaf community. “
On Sunday in the NRL Charity Round the Canberra Raiders will wear a special jersey carrying the Deaf Australia logo as part of our ongoing campaign to drive awareness of the issues facing deaf people in Australia and to promote greater inclusion – with the jerseys being auctioned post-game to raise funds.
The match will also feature a pre-match World Record attempt by the expected crowd of more than 20,000 fans who will conduct the world’s largest ever public usage of sign-language – using the local Auslan platform – and will be signing the phrase “We Are Huawei Raiders.”