Thursday, 07 March 2019 11:59

VIDEO: Huawei's StorySign app now supports Auslan, Emma 'Yellow Wiggle' Watkins is ambassador


Launched in the UK last year, and promised to come with Auslan support in 2019, Huawei's StorySign app is now available for deaf and hard-of-hearing children and their parents to enjoy story time together.

As previewed by iTWire late last year in an article entitled "Huawei launches story reading app for deaf community", the new StorySign app is finally available for Australians with "Auslan" compatibility, the sign language of Australia’s deaf community.

You can learn more about the app at Huawei's site, where the app can be downloaded to Android phones here

StorySign "uses the power of AI to enrich story time for deaf and hard of hearing children and their parents by creating an authentic reading experience".

As noted above, the app was officially announced last year, and it "harnesses the power of AI to open the world of books to deaf children and their families".

"Featuring popular children’s book ‘Where’s Spot?’ and using the help of StorySign’s friendly avatar Star, the app uses AI to translate popular children’s books into perfect sign language page by page, delivering a seamless user experience.

"To mark the Australian launch of Huawei’s StorySign app, Emma ‘Yellow Wiggle’ Watkins has partnered as an ambassador. As a passionate advocate for sign language and well recognised child entertainer, Emma is committed to supporting young children in the deaf community."

Watkins said: “This is an initiative that is close to my heart and it’s wonderful to see the power of technology used to make such a positive impact.

"I have found signing is a powerful way to connect with our young audience, so I’m delighted to be an ambassador of this StorySign app that is helping young deaf children participate in reading and literacy.”

We're told that, "in Australia, around 400 children are born deaf each year (PDF link)".

"With no written form for sign, children who are hard of hearing often struggle to connect sign language with the written word; posing reading challenges and ultimately impacting their literacy levels. The StorySign app, in conjunction with a smartphone and a physical book, delivers the best story time experience for both parent and child."

Here's the official StorySign video, the article continues below, please read on!

Huawei Australia Corporate Responsibility manager Lisa Connors commented: “With StorySign, Huawei is using the power of its AI and innovative technology in a meaningful way.

“We’re delighted to make this incredible StorySign app accessible to our local deaf community in Australia.”

Huawei tells us that the app is "optimised for Huawei AI", although it runs on Android smartphones in general, and has features including "Image Recognition and Optical Character Recognition [which] will create the best possible reading experience".

"The Image Recognition allows children to position the phone at an angle from the book and the app will still recognise the words perfectly, whilst the OCR permits the app to function with greater accuracy.

"The AI performance will also power the speed at which pages from the book can load in the app, meaning that children won’t be left waiting too long to find out what happens next in the story.

"To raise awareness of deaf literacy, Huawei Australia continues its partnership with national charity organisation, Deaf Australia, to encourage support and donation for those affected with hard of hearing."

Deaf Australia chief executive Kyle Miers said: “The deaf community often struggles with content to address children’s literacy development needs. With the StorySign app now compatible with Auslan, Huawei is making digital tools accessible to Australian children. We are proud to continue our work with Huawei on the StorySign project as it unfolds in Australia".

As a sign of ongoing commitment to the StorySign initiative, Huawei proudly notes it is "investing in local research to support a wider conversation about ensuring equality in every aspect of their lives for people in the deaf community".

StorySign is available on Android smartphones and can be downloaded free from Google Play Store.

For more information, and learn how you can help, visit the StorySign website here.

We're told that "Donations can be made via the StorySign campaign hub on the Huawei website, as well as through the ‘about’ section on the StorySign app. All money raised will support deaf child literacy projects in Australia, including more books for StorySign".

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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