An app that has the goal of improving communication between the deaf and hearing.
A few months ago I started a job at a nonprofit organization that specializes in finding employment for people who are disabled. Therefore, I spend a lot of time around people who have special needs. Some of that population is hearing impaired. I’ve always had a strong interest in learning American Sign Language, but never took the time to learn more than the alphabet. So, it can be hard to communicate with people who either can’t speak or can’t hear what I’m saying. There are dozens of translation apps out there for people who speak different languages, but what about ASL?
I was recently introduced to a mobile app that makes it possible for anyone to communicate with deaf and hearing impaired persons — Prodeaf for iOS. A co-worker had attended an educational job training seminar and in that series of meetings, one of the tools they presented is this sign language translator that fits right in your pocket. I downloaded it immediately and began using it. Within a few minutes, I began understanding a bit more about how to sign simple phrases like, “Hello, my name is Robyn.” Even though the app’s main purpose it to give speaking persons a way to illustrate their words with an animated ASL character on the screen, I found it helpful in trying to learn how to sign, too. For me, it was a little like taking a foreign language immersion class.
After I researched the app, I found that Prodeaf is a series of software options for translating sign language and not just an app. Prodeaf is actually a set of software that translates text and voice into Portuguese Libras – Brazilian Sign Language. Even though it was created for Portuguese Libras, it does translate for ASL, too. The software provides a friendly animated character that signs the voice or text that is provided into a visual sign language. It started out as a website add-on to make websites deaf-friendly and then they expanded to mobile applications. Prodeaf also has an online dictionary that is designed to facilitate language learning and a solution for full accessibility to communicate with clients through self-service kiosks or tablets for video calls with an interpreter. Prodeaf was born from the necessity to communicate.
Even though Prodeaf offers other platforms, I used it on my iPhone. The app is free to download and once you have it installed all you have to do is tap the microphone or enter text into the “Touch to Translate” field. I did discover a small glitch with the app. When I first open it, the animated character that provides the sign language does not appear. I have to select a different menu option and then return to the Translate screen before he shows up. There is a history option available so if you use a phrase frequently, you can select it from the list and replay the animation. There is also a dictionary built in so you can look up single words and learn how to sign them.
Prodeaf for iOS is a simple app with a big mission — to promote communication between deaf people and hearing persons. It’s easy to use and free to download.
DOWNLOAD – Prodeaf for iOS – FREE