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Deaf, hard-of-hearing students perform first test of sign language by cell phone
Date:8/16/2010

af and Hard of Hearing in Computing. The academy accepts academically gifted deaf and hard-of-hearing students interested in pursuing computing careers. Students spend nine weeks at the UW taking computer programming and animation classes, meeting with deaf and hard-of-hearing role models who already work in computing fields, UW graduate students and visiting local computer software and hardware companies.

Most study participants say texting or e-mail is currently their preferred method for distance communication. Their experiences with the MobileASL phone are, in general, positive.

"It is good for fast communication," said Tong Song, a Chinese national who is studying at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. "Texting sometimes is very slow, because you send the message and you're not sure that the person is going to get it right away. If you're using this kind of phone then you're either able to get in touch with the person or not right away, and you can save a lot of time."

Josiah Cheslik, a UW undergraduate and past participant in the summer academy who is now a teaching assistant, agreed.

"Texting is for short things, like 'I'm here,' or, 'What do you need at the grocery store?'" he said. "This is like making a real phone call."

As everyone knows, text-based communication can also lead to mix-ups.

"Sometimes with texting people will be confused about what it really means," Song said. "With the MobileASL phone people can see each other eye to eye, face to face, and really have better understanding."

Some students also use video chat on a laptop, home computer or video phone terminal, but none of these existing technologies for transmitting sign language fits in your pocket.

Cheslik recounts that during the study one participant was lost riding a Seattle city bus and the two were able to communicate using MobileASL. The student on the bus described what he was seeing and Cheslik helped him navigate where he wanted t
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Contact: Hannah Hickey
hickeyh@uw.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert  

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