[CONFIRMATION] We are an officially registered team for Melbourne Hack 2021

  • Joshua Piper
  • Michaela Thomson
  • Leesa Ward


One question in the participant's handbook by the MedTech stream explanation stuck out to the team: how do you wish to be a part of the medical technology evolution?

Children, especially young children, may often have difficulties effectively communicating their thoughts with adults since their spoken language and literacy skills are still in development. Keyword Sign is a communication strategy based upon Auslan (Australia Sign Language) that has been simplified to support communication. While it is a promising method to make the communication process smoother between children and adults, it still largely lacks awareness. Our application is designed not only to aid in that process, but also to raise awareness of the communication strategy as a whole.

What does it do?

Key Word Sign AAC is an application developed for the MedTech stream of Melbourne Hack 2021 that is designed to allow easier communication between children and adults. To do this, we have created a simple, colourful interface with custom images representing particular common signs. There is also the ability to hear the spoken word associated with the sign, translate basic phrases into their associated signs, and upload new signs where needed. However, we also offer a RESTful API to allow developers to continue raising awareness of Key Word Sign.

How did we build it?

The technology stack selected for Key Word Sign AAC uses ES6 Javascript via React, NodeJS via Express, and SASS to extend the functionality and efficiency of CSS. This approach was picked largely as it was the fastest way for us as a team to develop a minimum viable product and leveraged the team's existing skillset. Furthermore, we also wanted to adopt the key best practices taught during the workshops throughout the week.

Challenges we ran into

The primary challenge in developing this application was not in the development phase, but the ideation phase—many problems to target and possible solutions were considered in this stage of the project. Many even seemed initially promising, until it was time to establish a plan for developing a solution. In fact we began developing a different idea which was gamifying the Pomodoro study technique. However, we thought it would be smarter to focus our efforts on creating a product that could truly help those who need it.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Melbourne Hack 2021 is the first Hackathon in general for some of our team, and the first Hackathon we have all collaborated on together. Key Word Sign AAC as it stands does have plenty of room for extension and improvement, but it is a functional, elegant solution that addresses the problem and gap in the market that we intended to address.

What we learned

This is indeed our first Hackathon working together, and the key thing we learned was not related to technologies, as most of the ones used were what we already had familiarity with. The biggest lesson of this project was how we worked together as a newly formed team, and how we adapted to challenges posed by a changing team lineup, and changing ideas at short notice.

Share this project: