9 million people in the UK are deaf, and hard of hearing. 50% of adults feel unconfident when talking to deaf people.
third most-common disability in the world is deafness; but you will probably not spot any deaf people in a crowd.
Lip-readers can catch less than half of what is spoken to them
What it does
Hear to Help is a mobile app with the mission of helping deaf people and connecting deaf people to society. Hear to Help does this by translating speech into text for easy communication; this removes the communication barrier and allows the person to form connections. This app also recognises all sounds in the environment using AI.
Hear to help has a speech to text feature that enables the deaf person to communicate.
The alert me feature recognises all sounds using AI and will alert the person of incoming danger by vibrating; it can also state what sounds are being made to help the deaf person be aware of their environment.
The sign language feature educates the person of sign language with mini lessons, it also can convert speech into British sign language or American sign language using AI.
How we built it
UX Design is an important factor To create a soothing and comforting environment, I carefully selected colours to come to this colour palette.
I also ensured that in app prototypes simplistic and universally understandable icons are used to result in an intuitive and user friendly app.
My immense research showed that this is a complex problem requires an equally complex solution. I will use AI for the app to recognise everyday sounds (e.g. cars honking, dogs barking) and alert the user of any possible danger with a vibration from an accompanying watch/bracelet. An accompanying bracelet that will vibrate to alert users of incoming danger ensures a warning which cannot be ignored, contrary to a vibration from a phone.
After thorough research, I found that deafness is a world-wide problem with a diverse population of victims from different countries and cultures. I then came to realise that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for this problem and a diverse audience requires a diverse solution. As a result, in the future of the app, I will have to incorporate multilingualism. For example, during speech to text conversions, not only will English speech be converted into English text, but also French speech into French text. I also ensured that in app prototypes simplistic and universally understandable icons are used to result in an intuitive and user friendly app. Additionally, not only does the culture of victims vary but also the severity and the individual journeys of each user. For example, some people live years into their life undisturbed by hearing problems until one day being impacted whereas others may be born with hearing problems. As a result, some may prefer sign language over text and vice-versa. As a result, I will ensure that on the speech to text conversion page, not only will text be displayed, but also a visual animation of sign language and hand gestures.
Challenges we ran into
What if the AI converts and displays wrong sign language, or text/speech? To combat this, the AI will only convert text if there is above a 90% accuracy.
What if holding the phone endangers the person whilst on busy roads? We are also aware of the dangers of holding a phone on the road; to overcome this problem, a bracelet will be worn to detect and recognise sounds such as cars on a road and vibrate to alert the person. Users will receive vibrations from the bracelet and not from the phone, so that they truly do know that the vibrations are coming from our app and not any others from their phone.
“Heather was still a dreamer. She'd known she could never be an astronaut since she was a child, that no one would put a deaf girl into a rocket and tell her to reach for the stars, so she'd looked around until she'd found the next best thing, and then she'd done whatever she had to do to make it her own. She was one of the best in her field, and a lot of that was because after giving up on one dream, she 'd be damned before she gave up on another.”�― Mira Grant, Into the Drowning Deep
My goal is to help deaf people in our society; to create connections