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App bridges communication barrier between hearing and non-hearing persons

13 Dec 2020

REAH-C9 wearable solution.

By Nkhensani Hlungwani

Deaf students from Future-Coding, a computer training school based in Lynwood, Pretoria launched the REAH-C9 South African Sign Language Interpreter (SASLI)wearable technology, together with Mbula organisation in September.

The REAH-C9 solution is a product that was made available to help facilitate the sign language charter that was launched by the government in order to enable deaf people to have equal opportunities as hearing individuals and to bridge the communication barrier between hearing and non-hearing persons.

“Early this year we had an encounter when one of our delegates fell ill and had to be taken to hospital and throughout navigating the hospital services, we encountered a communication barrier between the deaf patient and the healthcare workers and those are just some of the reasons behind this launch, said founder of Mbula and Future-Coding, Wonder Ndhlovu.

Wonder Ndhlovu wearing the REAH-C9 solution.

The REAH-C9 technology allows for three-way communication. In a situation where a deaf individual engages with a person who doesn’t know sign language, the REAH-C9 solution allows the latter to hear what the deaf person is saying, as it converts what’s being signed by the deaf person into voice. Then when the hearing person responds back to the deaf person, the technology will display the signing of what the person is saying via a digital display screen.

The REAH-C9 is an update of the REAH version launched in 2019. It is not created only for hearing individuals but also for deaf people who wish to learn sign language by utilising the app.

One of the REAH app software developers, Busisiwe Sibanyoni (25), told ThisAbility that, “There are not many apps that are specific to South African Sign Language, so we currently remain one of the few players in the market.”

The app has been downloaded by close to 500 people, and it is available for downloading on the Android and iOS app stores.

“The app is very useful especially when it comes to learning new words and the alphabets in sign language. I’m now able to have a meaningful conversation with my deaf friends because of it, a user of REAH app, Tshembani Maluleke (25), told ThisAbility.

The marketing and communication manager of Mbula, Misiwe Xolo (35), said, “The wearable technology as a whole is gaining momentum in South Africa, however,wearable glasses are still somewhat taboo. I think people are taking a great interest in the technology and with advancements such as the REAH-C9 South African Sign Language Interpreter wearable solution, hearing and non-hearing individuals have an opportunity to experience the technology in their daytoday interactions.”

For more information and how to access the REAH-C9 Sign Language Interpreter, contact 065 922 6737 or learntosign@reah.co.za.

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