talk to the hand

Inventor develops 'talking glove' for deaf

The AcceleGlove is a wearable computer with super-small electronic circuitry. Sensors in the glove work with a micro-controller attached to the wearer's arm, mapping the placement and movement of the arm and fingers. That information is turned into data a computer can read and convert to words heard from a loudspeaker or read on a computer screen. [...]

The single glove can make the signs that correspond to all 26 letters of the alphabet, so any word can be spelled out. But this is a slow process. American Sign Language also includes hundreds of gestures that express single words and simple sentences, but most require two hands. So far the single glove can produce fewer than 200 words that can be signed with the one hand, and a few expressions such as "What's the matter?" and "I'll help you." [...]

Some further testing is needed, Hernandez-Rebollar said. He believes the right hand glove could be manufactured and on the market next year, while a two-handed version with much greater possibilities could be ready in 2005.

And of course no article about the deaf would be complete without letting the crackpots sound off:

But the idea of turning sign language into speech annoys some deaf people who see ASL -- used in the United States and English-speaking Canada -- as part of their unique culture.

"Some feel that being deaf is not a deficiency," said Andy Lange, president of the National Association of the Deaf. "It's simply another way of life and the deaf should not use artificial means to overcome a loss of hearing."


16 Responses:

  1. baconmonkey says:

  2. 33mhz says:

    Not that that last bit needs a rebuttal, but I'd say that while I don't count not being able to see into the infrared spectrum as a deficiency, I'm not going to turn my nose up at an offer of nightvision goggles.

    • greyface says:

      Good way of putting it.

      But those are probably the same jerk-offs that are against hearing aids.

      I'm going to be very un-PC, and say something that they would turn to incarnations of fire over: They are against anything that allows a deaf person to live a normal (i.e. non-deaf) lifestyle. It is important to them, to protect their support-base by making deaf people live their lives with the work-arounds that previous generations of deaf people needed. Many of which can currently be discarded by a majority with the assistence of technology.

      They are protecting a lifestyle instead of protecting the people who currently live that lifestlye. It's ludicrous.

      • baconmonkey says:

        no, it's typically the Cochlear Implants that piss off Deaf Culture advocates.

        in a sense, there is a grain a validity under it all, and a devil's advocate might argue somethings like this:

        White people have an easier being succesul time in society, new technology allows us to remove the burden of non-white skin from people who are born with the impariment.

        Homosexuality is abnormal, and causes all kinds of stress and suffering for people growing up with this defect. wouldn't it be nice if we could identify the causes of it and correct it becore a baby is born that way? Wouldn't that reduce the ammount of suffering (and disease) in the world? is that not an admidable goal?


        The Chinese Government is pushing Mandarin as the official languange, and is trying to stamp out the Cantonese language, and to an extent the cultures associated with it. Language has been shown to affect and influence how people think, and by eliminating the language, you are attacking an entire way of thought and the people who live that way.

        In every case, the argument about protecting the lifestyle vs. people who live that way could be made. However, there are cases where a full bulletproof logical argument cannot neceisarily be made, and one need simply do that thing that apparently became so hard starting in the 90s, and that is to make a subjective value judgement, and present them with a bucket of cocks on which to choke - unless of course, they are a deaf, black, homosexual who speaks Cantonese.

        • greyface says:

          There is a big difference.

          That difference is that the difficulty and suffering caused to your black, homosexual, Cantonese speaker are caused by immorality on the part of [some] people around them. The difficulty caused to a deaf person does not make vocalizations an immoral form of communication.

          You are right though, it comes down to your subjective moral judgment, (just like you said), but I am absolutely shameless in my moral self-assurance. The reliance on sound in language and modern communication is not immoral, despite the complications it creates for people with (an "infacility"... no, screw that) disabilities) which make it difficult or impossible.

  3. gregv says:

    Wow, the depth of some people's PC-ness never fails to amaze me. I love that the "it's not a disablity" mindset has been taken so far as to cause people to bash ways of overcoming it. The alternative is for them to hope their vocalizations are still coherent to the rest of us, and the people who are born deaf (sorry, hearing-impared/challenged/alternate-lifestyle-choice) remain screwed.

    It reminds me of when some author was on the Daily Show talking about the ridiculous PC rules that were going into some standardized tests. You couldn't tell the story about the blind guy who climbed Mount Everest because framing it as inspiring is insulting to blind people, as it implies they have a disability. Some of the other good ones:

    - You can't mention great black athletes or Asian intellectuals at all because they reinforce stereotypes.

    - You can't mention a child having a birthday party because some children may not have birthday parties and feel left out.

    - You can't talk about how an owl catches its prey because owls symbolize death in some Native American tribe and thus no child in North America should ever learn about owls. (Native American, by the way, is the one PC phrase I actually like since it gets rid of a stupid mistake we've been carrying around and is not just a feel-good device. However, I don't get upset if people still say Indian.)

    Fortunately most of this has died out, but a few crackpots remain for our amusement.

  4. jcurious says:

    NAD has an this essay (that in part) says you should use "hard of hearing" rather then "hearing impaired"...
    even teachers at school would tell me this! Pardon me, but using "hearing impaired" is clear,simple, and to the point.. WTF does "hard of hearing mean"? I tried using "hard of hearing" for a while... after having to explain to people that it meant that I was "hearing impaired" all the time.. I just gave up... NAD wants to make deafness a "race" issue, but it's not... it is a disability... hell there are people that say the word "disability" is bad since it has a negative prefix... HELLO! Being hearing impaired or otherwise disabled is a BUG -NOT A FEATURE!- The essay says that using "hearing impaired" is bad since it labeling a person as someone who has not met the "hearing" standard.... isn't that what the "deaf" or "hard of hearing" terms express as well?
    To conclude my rant.. I'll just say this to the closing of that essay... "Hearing impaired" is what I am... the term is neither outdated or offensive to ME!!!!

    btw I wish I knew more sign so I could really test those out ;)

    • ciphergoth says:

      Is there a well-known deaf organisation that explicitly says "We support the use of hearing aids etc. to improve the lives of hearing impaired people. We think deafness and hearing impairment are Bad Things and the fewer people have to suffer them the happier we are."? It seems like it's always the kooks who get quoted and it would be good if someone was out there making it clear that they are a minority among deaf and hearing impaired people.

      • jcurious says:

        Ok... one quick point about NAD... they aren't so crazy that they argue against hearing aids... thier issue is with childhood Cochlear Implants as a cure all...

        There are deaf orgs that completely oppose the implants though...

        BTW I have not heared of any org saying that hearing aids are "bad things"...

        also, NAD does do a lot of "good things" even if I don't agree with all of thier views...

  5. crazyunlikeafox says:

    With the slow speed of spelling out words using sign language, I don't see how this is an improvement over a chording keyboard and a speech synthesizer. I suppose the deaf already know signing and would have to learn the keyboard, but that's about it.

    • jwz says:

      Yeah, it doesn't sound like it'll be truly useful until they have the two-arm version that allows full-sentence decoding. Still, it's a cool application of a data glove, even if it's a beta...

      And, I wonder if two-armed ASL is more efficient than a chording keyboard? If so, maybe this would end up being a useful data entry device even for people who can hear.

  6. cyeh says:

    "talk to the hand"