Saturday, December 4, 2010

Stupid Gloves

I've seen several news stories online lately about electronic gloves to help deaf people communicate with hearing people. Some of them are not developed enough to be helpful while others are simply stupid.
One glove allows users to make shapes from the Sign Language alphabet with their hands and shows the letters on a computer screen. Duh! If someone can fingerspell English words they can certainly type the same letters using a keyboard and technology is already available to read the words aloud.
And fingerspelling isn't really Sign Language anyway, it's just English, or whatever other language the spelled words belong to, on the hands. I was an Instructional Counselor at California School for the Deaf for many years, married an American Sign Language interpreter, raised three deaf foster kids, and have had many deaf friends and acquaintances, so I know what I'm talking about.
Of course the gloves that can speak things aloud without a computer are a bit more helpful, but I'm not sure they're more practical than the portable devices already available. If they do get improved to the point where they can speak hundreds of genuine signs as English words that will be a different story. Maybe that will happen in a few years.

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