What is the portable sign language translator?

Technology is opening up a whole new world of communications for the hearing-impaired. Portable technology that will make it easier for the deaf to communicate is now entering the market. Two companies are making headlines in this arena. One is Krown manufacturing, a deaf- owned company dedicated to manufacturing products for the hearing-impaired. The other, Technabling, is an off-shoot of the University of Aberdeen.

Krown Manufacturing is a leading, deaf-owned, company dedicated to making products for the deaf. Because the owners, Barbara and Sidney Ander are both profoundly deaf, they are in a unique position to understand their clientele and their clients’ needs.  Products already produced by Krown include amplified phones, TTY devices and various kinds of signalers. Recently Krown released its newest product, the portable sign language translator. The small, hand-held device measures 3.1 by 5.6 inches with a thickness of only .75 inches. The portable sign language translator has a two by three inch touch screen and rechargeable battery and comes complete with a USB power cable and stylus. The device holds up to 3500 signs. The user simply types in a word and the screen displays the sign. Makers say that this device is ideal for educators, public employees, students, friends and family. It can also be useful for those who want to learn sign language.

Even more amazing, scientists in Aberdeen, Scotland are in the process of developing software that can be used on laptops and hand held devices to help interpret sign language.Technabling, a company founded by University of Aberdeen professor, Dr. Ernesto Compatangelo, is the company responsible for this new technology. Compatangelo, a lecturer of computing science says of the new technology: “The aim of the technology is to empower sign language users by enabling them to overcome the communication challenges they face through portable technology.”  

Technabling’s intent is to create a software application that is easily accessible and can be used on numerous devices. Compatangelo goes on to add, “One of the most innovative and exciting aspects of the technology is that it allows sign language users to actually develop their own signs for concepts and terms they need to have in their vocabulary.” The way the technology works is it reads the movements of the sign language user and then turns those movements into text. One of the main focuses for the technology, as stated by Technabling, is to help improve employment opportunities for young deaf people. It is hoped that this technology will transform the ability of the deaf to communicate.