n South African Computer Journal - Towards communication and information access for Deaf people : research article

Special issue 2
  • ISSN : 1015-7999
  • E-ISSN: 2313-7835



In tightly circumscribed communication situations, an interactive system resident on a mobile device can assist Deaf people with their communication and information needs. The Deaf users considered here use South African Sign Language and information is conveyed by a collection of pre-recorded video clips and images. The system was designed and implemented according to our method of community-based co-design. We present several stages of the development as a series of case studies and highlight our experience and the implications for design. The first stage involved ethnographically inspired methods such as cultural probes. In the next stage we co-designed a medical consultation system that was ultimately dropped for technical reasons. A smaller system was developed for pharmaceutical dispensing and successfully implemented and tested. It now awaits deployment in an actual pharmacy. We also developed a preliminary authoring tool to tackle the problem of content generation for interactive computer literacy training. We are also working on another medical health information tool. We intend that a generic authoring tool be able to generate mobile applications for all of these scenarios. These mobile applications bridge communication gaps for Deaf people via accessible and affordable assistive technology.

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