New Glove Translates American Sign Language into Speech Through App

Julia Metraux

What’s new: UCLA bioengineers developed a glove-like device that translates American Sign Language into speech in real-time through a smartphone app. A study that the researchers published in Nature found that the glove has a 98.63% accuracy rate in recognizing signs in less than one second. The bioengineers analyzed 660 acquired sign language hand gesture recognition patterns in order to improve the accuracy of this device.

Our hope is that this opens up an easy way for people who use sign language to communicate directly with non-signers without needing someone else to translate for them. — Jun Chen, UCLA Newsroom

This device is not ready for the market yet, but UCLA has filed a patent for the technology. It is not clear how much this sign-to-speech glove and app would cost users.

Related:Download The Mighty app to connect in real time with people who can relate to what you're going through.

The Frontlines: Deaf and hard of hearing people often face barriers when communicating with hearing people. While hearing aids and cochlear implants can bridge a communication gap for many, these devices do not work for the entire community.

  • This is not the first high-tech glove that has been developed. An engineer in Kenya won the hardware trailblazer award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for his invention Sign-IO, which is not yet on the market.
  • More than 90% of Deaf children in the United States are born to hearing parents.
  • Roughly 466 million people have a moderate to profound hearing loss, according to the World Health Organization. This is around 5% of the world’s population.

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A Mighty Voice: The Mighty’s community leader and contributor Amanda Reavey shared her experience dealing with inaccessibility as someone who is hard of hearing. “With the majority of the population also using mini-computers (ahem, I mean ‘cell phones’), rather than landlines, that’s a huge portion of the populace not able to use a primary mode of communication.” You can submit your first person story, too.

Related:Deaf Actress Shaylee Mansfield Showcases Authenticity in Netflix's 'Feel the Beat'

From Our Community:

I recently got diagnosed as deaf. atm I’m feeling v isolated as all my friends & family are hearing. what advice would you give to adjusting to this?

Add your voice:

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Other things to know: Deaf and hard of hearing people who are lip readers are facing more accessibility barriers during COVID-19. To read more on the topic and the impact COVID-19 has on Deaf and hard of hearing people, check out these Mighty articles:

How to take action: If you are not Deaf or hard of hearing there are many things you can do now to support Deaf and hard of hearing people. One action you can take is to make an accessible mask so your mouth is visible, which you can find instructions for here. 

Read more stories like this on The Mighty:

How One Teacher Inspired Me to Embrace My Hard-of-Hearing Identity and Succeed

When My Father Said I'd Have to Work Twice as Hard Because I Am Deaf

Young Deaf Actor Brings Warmth, Authenticity to 'The Parts You Lose'

National Deaf Therapy Wants to Make Mental Health Treatment More Accessible