It was a Friday afternoon, and I was attending my American Sign Language (ASL) class with my wonderful, Deaf ASL teacher. She had taught us a lot about Deaf history, the culture, and her upbringing. To give us an example, she shared a story about her visit to the hospital and all the challenges she had faced during her visit.
She explained it’s not easy to arrange the doctor appointments because she needs to book ASL interpreters a month in advance. The day she was ready to visit her physician her interpreter had an urgent issue and had to cancel the appointment. Meaning, her appointment with the doctor had to be canceled!
I remembered four years ago when I first found out about my father’s health problem. He was not a native English speaker. Communication was their main challenge. We were lucky that if an interpreter or I were not available, a real-time translation app on his phone would provide him a basic level of translation. Although the real-time translation app was not hundred percent accurate, it was a relief for him to have to solely rely on me in every situation. I observed his delight in getting back his freedom using this real-time translation solution.
Deaf people face the same challenges almost every day. There are over seven thousand languages in the world and ASL is one of them. When there is a barrier in communication, there is no difference between visual or spoken languages.
In my personal life, I am grateful for all the recent technology advancement in Automatic Speech Recognition and Natural Language Processing. I have shared my dad’s story with my teacher and we’ve both agreed this problem is not specific to Deaf community. It is one of the main challenges in the world that can be solved by technology. Technology for good!
At OmniBridge, we believe that in couple of years from now nobody is going to worry about missing any interaction with another person due to unavailable interpreters. AI-based sign language translation is going to advance further, and all Deaf across the globe will have access to bi-directional communication anywhere, anytime.