Technology is running at unprecedented speed these days, and Artificial Intelligence has taken the industry by storm. The more work we put in the softwares, the lesser work needs to be done by the user. But one thing that is constantly missing is ‘inclusiveness’. Let me rephrase the sentence for better understanding. The more work we put in the softwares, the lesser work needs to be done by the same user. A user who is otherwise already capable of doing things on his/her own. So, what about the other set of the population which already has limitations in accessing the technology? After all, development is only half as good if it leaves out people from the society.
Well, somebody seems to take notice of that! Samsung recently launched a communication tool for the deaf-blind. The tool is called Good Vibes which will help them to communicate with their caregivers and loved ones. But who are the deaf-blind?
Deaf-blind is a term that is used for a person who has a combination of impaired vision and hearing. For some, this condition is by birth. In other circumstances, some could be only deaf at birth and lose their eyesight in childhood. Or they could progressively lose their hearing and vision into adulthood. Further, the major causes of deaf-blindness are Congenital Rubella Infection and Usher Syndrome. Other causes include Birth Trauma or CHARGE syndrome.
So how does Samsung plan to include the deaf-blind into the tornado of developing technology in communication solutions? Well, they have come up with the Good Vibes app, a two-way communication app. This app uses Morse code to translate vibrations into text or voice, and vice-versa. The app has two different user interfaces (UI). One invisible UI for the target audience, the deaf-blind; which uses vibrations, gestures, and taps to aid communication. The other UI is visible that uses standard text input. This is meant for the caregiver, which delivers the message to the deaf-blind person as Morse code vibrations.
Samsung curated this app in India, in association with Sense International. They are one of the few NGOs in India dedicated to helping the deaf-blind and sensitizing people about the condition. Also, the greatest backbone of this initiative is the research and practical observations that have been inculcated into this. What’s more is Samsung has reportedly conducted workshops for the same. Also, they collaborated with experts to study the response and behavior of the deafblind to the attributes of the Good Vibes App.
In this rat race of putting out the fastest charging phone or the best camera phone, it is refreshing to see an institution which is thinking and reflecting. Also, labeling the initiative as big enough, or too small, will be a mindless effort. After all, what matters is the inclusiveness and sensitization that it aims at. And the innovation is commendable.
*Good Vibes app can be downloaded from Samsung Galaxy Store. It is also available on Google Play Store for all other Android phone users. Samsung has partnered with the not-for-profit organization Sense India to take the Good Vibes app to the deaf-blind across the country.