Accessing healthcare can be a significant challenge for the hearing-impaired and speech-impaired communities in Ghana. Most hospitals lack the necessary support to cater to these individuals, including sign language translators who could facilitate communication between the patients and healthcare providers.
This communication gap has resulted in the isolation and stigmatization of the hearing and speech-impaired community in Ghana. The majority of society communicates through speech, while these individuals communicate through sign language. As a result, many people do not feel the need to learn sign language, which perpetuates the communication barrier.
To address this issue, students at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) have developed an app called SignTalk. The app is a first-step initiative aimed at bridging the communication gap and reintegrating the hearing and speech-impaired community back into society. SignTalk offers speech-to-sign-language translation and sign-language-to-speech translation features, making it easier for patients and doctors to communicate effectively.
The speech-to-sign-language translation feature allows doctors to speak into their device’s microphone, which then translates their speech into sign-language videos that represent exactly what the doctor said. Conversely, the sign-language-to-speech translation feature leverages computer vision and deep learning to enable the hearing and speech-impaired to perform sign language in front of their device’s camera. SignTalk then translates the sign language into speech played audibly by the doctor.
SignTalk’s features effectively act as a communication facilitator and translator between the hearing-impaired or speech-impaired patient and their doctor. This innovation will likely restore confidence in the speech-impaired and hearing-impaired community to access healthcare since they can effectively communicate their ailments and receive medical directions from their doctors conveniently.