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We-Sign: An Intermediary for Hearing Impaired Based Communication
Group members: Israel Alfred, Liam Briggs, Natalie Connors, Keon Jin, Waleed Sawan, Edward Zurabov
School: Western University
The hearing impaired face a universal challenge; their lack of auditory clarity imposes
natural limitations on them when in pursuit of education, employment, and general communication. Over 5% of the world's population, 466 million people, have disabling hearing
loss . In the education sector, it is estimated that 80% of the roughly 32 million deaf children
around the world lack access to education altogether . The statistics in the employment sector are also bleak, with fewer than 40% of those with a hearing disability working full time due to the limitations of their impairment .
To help facilitate communication and aid the issues many individuals in the hearing-impaired community face, We-Sign creates a seamless interaction between individuals with hearing impairments and those without this impairment. Through the use of image
processing (i.e. hand detection, background subtraction, etc.) and machine learning, We-Sign can recognize 24 of the 26 letters within the American Sign Language (ASL) framework through the onboard camera. Two-way communication is achieved when the user interacts with the device’s camera and the produced letters are fed through a word inference algorithm; sending the translated message to the speaker. The individual without the hearing impairment is then able to speak into the device’s microphone where the screen displays the message to the auditorily disabled individual, thus accomplishing bidirectional communication .
To evaluate the fiscal feasibility of this venture, a marketing plan has been developed to
integrate We-Sign into the community. The manufacturing cost of the hardware was calculated to be approximately $75.80. After factoring this in, as well as various expenses such as research, development, and labour, the selling price point was set to be $300 . Given the high cost of current hearing impairment assistive tools, the relatively low price point gives We-Sign a strong value proposition. This marketing plan not only provides the venture with a strong foundation to continue its operations for years to come, but We-Sign’s various applications (such as; schools, stores, and government offices) would also greatly help to diminish the communication gap .
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