People with severe or profound hearing loss face daily communication problems mainly due to the language barrier between themselves and the hearing community. Their hearing deficiency, as well as their use of sign language, often makes it difficult for them to use and understand spoken language. Cyprus is amongst the top 5 European countries with a relatively high proportion of registered deaf people (0.12 per cent of the population: GUL, 2010). However, lack of technological and financial support to the Deaf Community of Cyprus leaves the Cypriot deaf people unsupported and marginalised. The paper aims to discuss this issue.Design/methodology/approachThis study implemented user-centred design methods to explore the communication needs and requirements of Cypriot deaf people and develop a functional prototype of a mobile app to help them to communicate more effectively with hearing people. A total of 76 deaf adults were involved in various stages of the research. This paper presents the participatory design activities (N=8) and results of usability testing (N=8).FindingsThe study found that users were completely satisfied with the mobile app and, in particular, they liked the use of Cypriot Sign Language (CSL) videos of a real person interpreting hearing people’s speech in real time and the custom onscreen keyboard to allow faster selection of text input.Originality/valueDespite advances in communication aid technologies, there is currently no technology available that supports CSL or real-time speech to sign language conversion for the deaf people of Cyprus.
Journal of Enabling Technologies – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 19, 2019
Keywords: User-centred design; Participatory design; Communication technologies; Mobile technologies; Deaf people; Speech to sign language