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SUNS Partner Huawei launches StorySign

StorySign is a free app, that reads selected children’s books and translates them into sign language, to help deaf children learn how to read.

Huawei Australia has announced the launch of StorySign, an AI-powered app that helps enrich story time for deaf and hard of hearing children and their parents.

There are approximately 32 million deaf children globally and around 250 – 400 deaf children are born in Australia each year*. Many struggle to learn to read, often due to a lack of options that help bridge sign language learning and reading. StorySign uses the power of Huawei’s AI (Artificial Intelligence) to create an authentic reading experience, helping to open the world of books to deaf children and their families.

Pioneered by Huawei and available in Australia from February 2019, StorySign will feature the popular children’s book, Where’s Spot at launch. With the help of StorySign’s friendly avatar Star and using the power of Huawei AI, the app translates the featured book into perfect sign language page by page delivering a seamless, happy and rewarding experience.

“At Huawei, we believe in the power of AI and that technology can make a positive difference in the world” comments Lisa Connors, Huawei Australia Corporate Responsibility Manager.

“We created StorySign to help make it possible for families with deaf children to enjoy the truly magical moments of story time.

"Created with experts and charities from the deaf community, StorySign was developed to ensure its use as a genuinely useful tool for families with deaf and hearing-impaired children.”

Huawei Australia has entered a partnership with local charity organisation, Deaf Australia, to encourage support and donation for those affected. Through this partnership, Huawei will offer the StorySign app to the Australian deaf community and aim to raise awareness of deaf literacy more broadly.

“Deaf children don’t learn to read in the same way as hearing children. Many struggle to learn how to read because they can’t match words with sounds. The deaf community is in need of accessible content to address children’s literacy development needs and digital tools like StorySign is addressing this necessity. For this reason, we are privileged to be working with Huawei on the StorySign project and how, through the use of AI and innovative technology, it could enrich the lives of Australian deaf children and their families in a meaningful way.” comments Kyle Miers, CEO of Deaf Australia.

“We’re very hopeful that it will make a significant impact in the deaf community, helping more deaf children learn how to read at the same level as hearing children. We also hope the launch of StorySign will support a wider conversation about ensuring equality in every aspect of their lives for deaf people.” says Mark Wheatley, Executive Director, European Union of the Deaf.

Sign has no written form as there is no direct English word-for-word translation, which poses a huge challenge to deaf children when learning to read. Huawei’s StorySign app, in conjunction with a compatible smartphone and physical book, delivers a magical story time experience for both parent and child.

Created with experts and charities from the deaf community across Europe and in Australia, StorySign uses Huawei AI featuring powerful Image Recognition and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to provide greater accuracy even when the child or parent positions the phone at an angle from the book. The AI further optimises the speed at which pages from the book loads in the app meaning that children won’t be left waiting too long to find out what happens next in the story.