Creation of Sonder was motivated by attending Hack for RARE organized by the Children’s Tumor Foundation and MIT Hacking Medicine for rare diseases where a mentor there had a rare disease Neurofibromatosis leading to tumors to grow on nerve terminations leading to deafness as a symptom.
15% of the world's population (1B people) experience a disability such as vision, mobility, or auditory. When people think of deaf and hard of hearing, they think of grandma and grandpa but there are over 308,648 deaf or hard of hearing children between the ages of 5 and 18. Of these, approximately 75,000 are on IEPs, and roughly 20.8% are in specialized schools and programs for deaf and hard of hearing students enrolled in the educational system. Sensory impairments affects how they live, communicate, and learn. This is an important market because childern are the future and deaf childern and their education matter - we can't leave anyone out.
This is a global problem for childern everywhere with 5 of 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals explicitly mentioning disabilities.
Goal 4: Quality education Goal 8: Good jobs and economic growth Goal 10: Reduced inequalities Goal 11: sustainable cities and communities Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals
United Nations Education Sustainable Development Goals by 2030
- Ensure all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education
- Eliminate gender disparities in education and Ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable
- Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability, gender-sensitive. Provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive, effective learning environments for all.
What it does
The word "Sonder" is defined as "The profound feeling of realizing that everyone, including strangers passed in the street, has a life as complex as one's own, which they are constantly living despite one's personal lack of awareness of it." This is important because the "Lived Experience" for a deaf student is extremely different. Developing with empathy - thinking of people other than yourself is important.
Sonder provides inclusive and equitable educational opportunities for deaf students. It is an online learning management system for hearing-impaired children and specialized teachers to teach the children. Sonder connects Deaf and Hearing-Impaired Students and Special Education Teachers making it easier to communicate.
Pain Points for Deaf Students * Limited ASL learning opportunities
- Inclusive and equitable educational opportunities for all where no student is left behind. There are limited options for online learning for the deaf especially in developing countries.
- Poor Translator options for deaf students: Students may need interpreters as they have not learned how to read properly but they are expensive, and not readily available 24/7. Captions for videos, instant transcription to follow a live teaching would be helpful as students are highly visual learners.
- COVID-19 online remote learning: Sign language relies heavily on facial expressions and body lanaguage. Many schools lack the necessary tools for a new setup of blended learning online from lack of internet connection, in-person guidance, and trouble learning remotely.
How we built it
Deaf Perspective In Inclusive Design
- Short Sentences : Keep sentences under 20 words: Research shows that when your average sentence length is 14 words, people understand over 90% of it, but at 43 words, people understand under 10% of it.
- Using Emojis Emojis support words and don't replace them as not everyone will understand emojis. They're best used when to add little more flavour.
- Less "Visual Stress" : People with dyslexia could get "visual stress" with the way the words appear. Dyslexia can affect reading speeds and comprehension.
- Readable Large Text : Large text size maintaining minimum contrast ratio of 4:5:1 for text. Using labels to identify forms with high-contrast text located above a form or button
- Plain English : Increases comprehension when audience can understand the first time they read or hear it. Avoid expressions, jargon, and idioms. Be concise with familiar words in the active voice.
- Colours and Graphical Icons : Using colour to convey information and using labels, hatches, patterns, or varying levels of contrast. [Colour blind friendly mode]
- User Interface Components : Info clear and easy to understand with simple organization that easily guides someone through a design. * * Left-align text when possible, and weights to classify hierarchy.
- Non-Sound Alerts : popup, a badge, text that stands out, or haptics, which creates an experience of touch with vibrations or motions. Notify when there is an update, change in status, or a new message
- Phone Number as only Contact option: If a student needs to contact the school, the website should not have a phone number as the only contact option. Options include using a fax number or a mailing address as contact options.
- Know Your Audience : Example: First generation students where English isn't always their first language. They can come from families where literacy levels won't always be at the highest level. There can also be different cultural and social norms.
- Alternative Text Image Descriptions: Around 1 or two sentences, or <140 characters description that provides a more detailed account of the image for more context
- Captions and Transcriptions: Captions, subtitles, or alternate audio can be customizable, allowing users to adjust them for font family, colour, size, background opacity, window colour, and character edge style.
An online learning management system for hearing-impaired children and specialized teachers to teach the children. Inclusive and equitable educational opportunities for ALL. Features include tech that transcribes or adds subtitles to virtual collaboration tools like Zoom or phone calls and Connect with emergency services in a nonverbal way for safety purposes. Portable translator for deaf or hard-of-hearing students. Connect with Sonder to transcribe or live caption voice to text for classrooms, business meetings, doctor’s appointments, shopping, events, and more. Video Interpretor: Reading American Sign Langauge with Computer Vision Google Tensorflow Object Detection Model CNNs trained on object recognition for visual recognition tasks:
Connect with emergency services in a nonverbal way for safety purposes. Sound Recognition for Emergency —› Access smart algorithm for security and peace of mind. Alerts deaf and hard-of-hearing users to potential dangers around them by creating a notification whenever the phone detects dangerous/important noises.
- Record Sounds Record environmental sounds to alert you in case of events. Sound monitors for Sirens, dog barks, fire alarms, car horns, baby crys, or microwaves.
- Set Safety Contacts Alerts the user with flashing lights or vibrations if special sounds are detected -creating a way to connect with emergency services in a nonverbal way. 3.Detection Mode Uses smartphone's microphone to constantly listen to the environment during "Detection Mode". Detects a broad range of sounds
- Connect to watch Users can have notifications go to their Apple Watch as well. in case they don't always want to be checking their phone to check if the fire alarm gone off in their school
- Emergency Mode Alerts user by vibrating smartphone and smartwatch. flashing mobile's camera light. and showing icon image of event on screen with a text note of the name.
Challenges we ran into
Cost Structure and Revenue Streams. Customer-lifecycle framework focusing on Awareness, Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, and Revenue making the target audience aware of Sonder's solution and leading them to make a purchase.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
The business model canvas looks nice and I wanted to add that you can code for good and also have a viable business plan. [triple bottom line] The colours and schemes were inspired by FUCHSIA/RETRO. On the color wheel fuchsia is located between pink and purple, which means it can be thought of as a meeting point between the two shades.
What we learned
Sonder did not realize how big of a problem this was and how many people it affected - for example it is estimated that by 2050 over 700 million people – or one in every ten people – will have disabling hearing loss. The go-to-market strategy for this market segmentation would be to target hearing-impaired childern aged 6-12 schools, government institutions, and caretakers (parents and special ed teachers). When people think of deaf and hard of hearing, I think of grandma and grandpa but childern with hearing loss in USA 308,648 deaf or hard of hearing children between the ages of 5 and 17. Of these, approximately 75,000 are on IEPs, and roughly 20.8% are in specialized schools and programs for deaf and hard of hearing students enrolled in the educational system. This is an important market because childern are the future and deaf childern and their education matter - we can't leave anyone out.
What's next for Sonder
New feature idea includes the Importance of Music for Childern who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing for learning.Creates visualizations and vibrations for the deaf or hard-of-hearing to help them feel the music. the app turns music into visual equalizer, vibration signals, and flashing lights. For students who wear hearing aids – an assistive technology that helps to amplify sound. App can help capture audio signals allowing students to better understand the world around them. Listening forms a fundamental component of music education where students actively hear the words, rhythms, melodies and pattern and train them in the importance of listening to each other. Sound is produced when vibration moves through an object so the deaf and hard of hearing will still try to experience music by putting themselves in closer proximity with vibrations.
- User Research and Validation
- QA Performance, Reliability, & Security
- Beta Testing with MVP for user feedback
- Add data privacy, collection, and sharing clause
- Publish to Google Playstore App Store
- Implement Monetization Channels