Technology with attitude

Skype Translator for the Partially Deaf and the Deaf

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Skype has an application that enables sign language users, those with difficulty in hearing and the deaf to communicate with hearing persons who are incapable of using the sign language.

The application is known as Skype Translator and it works in a way that it converts spoken words into instant written text. Ted Hart, who is one of Microsoft’s researchers who helped adapt the app, says that he uses Skype Translator to communicate with his wife via phone. Back in the days, Ted had to involve a third party when he wanted to communicate with his wife, who is able to hear, over the phone. According to him, apparently this was not a very appropriate approach to converse with his wife. Thanks to Skype Translator, the Harts can now communicate comfortably over the phone without involving a third party.

How the app works

Since December 2014, the Preview of Skype Translator has been available for the public. Currently it is a standalone application supporting a number of languages. Skype Translator functions on the basis of statistical translation technology by Microsoft and highly developed neural networks that are capable of recognizing speech. Users on one end just communicate in their native languages and the speech is translated into the language best understood by the users on the other end. Currently the supported languages are Spanish, French, English, German, Italian and Mandarin.

The app also supports on-screen text copy of the spoken words in the native language alongside the translation. Interestingly, Skype Translator features the translation of users’ instant messages to more than 40 languages that are supported by the Microsoft-enhanced technology. Since Skype supports video calling, the on-screen text message that is from spoken speech will reach the deaf and those having hearing problems as they will be able to read the message that displays on their screen, from the other end.

The application is integrated into Microsoft’s latest debuted Operating System; Windows 10. For computer users who need this application, they need to simply update to the latest version of Windows. The app is available in the respective app stores for the smartphone owners.

Filling gaps in the market

Apparently it seems that Microsoft is not giving anything to chance when it sees an opportunity in the much changing, competitive and ‘hungry’ ecosystem of technology. For instance, unlike Skype, Apple-owned FaceTime works only on iOS based devices, supports phone and video calls only and cannot support video conferencing. Microsoft noted the gaps and added more features to the once-owned Scandinavian app. Unlike FaceTime, Skype also works across all the platforms of operating systems as well as supporting video conferencing.

In addition, Skype’s Translator app comes in with on-screen text transcript when making a video call thus facilitating communication between the hearing party and the deaf and those having difficulty in hearing. There is also added advantage in communication between the deaf and the hearing with the ASL knowledge since the signs will also be seen.

Do you have loved ones who are deaf and those having difficulty in hearing? Download the app from your app store or Play Store or even upgrade to Windows 10 to acquire Skype Translator so as to enhance easy communication with no misinterpretation of information.