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New Technology Transforming Life for the Deaf

e and application of new technologies.

Telecoms companies are, meanwhile, showing increasing interest in the deaf persons' market.

British operator Vodafone is one of some 30 companies and associations who have stands at the congress and are offering a range of special deals for the hard of hearing.

"Vodafone wants to be a company embracing everyone, including the handicapped," explains Rosa Maria Martin on behalf of the firm which is Spain's number two mobile operator.

The company is offering special deals for Blackberry wireless handheld devices made by the Canadian firm RIM (Research in Motion) whose "chat applications are perfectly adapted to deaf people's communications needs," a brochure explains.

David Hoareau has travelled 12,00 kilometres (8,000 miles) from the Indian Ocean island of Reunion to attend along with 20 students from a specialist centre for the deaf.

"Deaf people have a reputation for being isolated. This congress shows that, on the contrary, we are capable of coming out and sharing our experiences and communicating," Hoareau said.

The raft of different versions of sign language across the world can make face-to-face communication difficult at such an international event, Hoareau admits, though the burgeoning technological aid helps in that direction.

"It's difficult. But with a little perseverance, following facial expressions carefully and only expressing simple things, you end up being able to communicate with everyone as anyone addressing a congress would do by using basic English" as a catch-all language, he explains.


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