Oral communication is probably the most innate form of communication in humans. With this is mind, it is no surprise that, in our society, it is very important. TV, radio and other platforms, such as YouTube, rely almost entirely on them, which is obviously a problem for deaf people.
With the goal of making life easier for people who cannot hear, the Brazilian company ProDeaf launched a mobile app with the same name, available for iOS, Window Phone and Android systems.
Winner of the award "Prêmio Anuário Tele.Sintese de Inovação em Comunicações", this app translates from Portuguese to Brazilian Sign Language. It is the result of a Master thesis from Federal University of Paraiba (UFPE), presented in 2010, and is based on the living experience of Marcelo Amorim, a deaf student.
ProDeaf works best if connected to the Internet, but can also operate offline. It translates small sentences either from text or voice directly, through speech recognition.
The application is obviously not perfect - in case that it finds a word or expression which it cannot translate, the app spells it letter by letter, allowing for the user to still be capable of understanding that word.
Another interesting feature of this app is that it has a built-in Portuguese dictionary, giving the possibility to translate those pre-determined words whenever the user requires.
It is also important to note that the app is 100% free of charge.
The ProDeaf Example
Of course, ProDeaf works only for Portuguese (Brazilian Portuguese, to be more accurate) speakers. However, the concept itself is, in my opinion, quite important. It marks an important step on the goal of making technology for everyone, and making technology aimed specifically to improve people's quality of life. There are also several apps in the English language available in order to help people with hearing problems. You can check some out here.
All of these are examples to be followed, hopefully, for every language on the planet