New app underscores need for Deaf-hearing collaboration

By October 31, 2022

Egypt (MNN) — An Egyptian app developer wants to bridge the communication gap between hearing and Deaf communities. Mohammed Aboelazm, 28, developed a mobile app that translates sign language to text and audio and vice versa.

“The value proposition of I Hear You is to become a Google translator for sign language. Sign languages are equal to other languages in the world and deserve attention,” Aboelazm tells The National.

(Graphic courtesy of DOOR International)

While noble, a project like this is easier said than done. “Many hearing people have assumptions about sign language and Deaf communities. I’m not saying that’s the case in this specific instance, but in a lot of cases, technologies get developed with those assumptions in mind,” Rob Myers of DOOR International says.

“Then, when those assumptions aren’t true, it ends up sidelining the project, or the project has to take a very, very different turn.”

See a list of common assumptions here.

“When you consider approaches like Google Translate for sign language, you’re trying to go from a written or spoken language to a sign language. Both directions (written text to sign language and vice-versa) have their interesting complications,” Myers explains.

“The intentions in trying to eliminate some of those communication barriers have been good,” he continues, but most efforts miss a core principle.

“If you want to be successful in working with any Deaf communities, in any context whatsoever, do that work with the Deaf community rather than doing it for [the Deaf community].”

Led by a team of Deaf Christians, DOOR International equips Deaf believers to reach their communities for Christ. Learn more here. Empowerment and collaboration are “guiding principles that DOOR International stands by,” Myers says.

“Out of 230 DOOR staff, over 85 percent are Deaf.”

Deaf empowerment does not mean hearing people have no role whatsoever. “God has gifted hearing and Deaf believers as part of the body of Christ to work together,” Myers says.

The partnership is essential to reaching the world’s Deaf communities for Christ. Less than two percent of the world’s 70 million Deaf people know and follow Jesus. Find your place in the story here!



Header and story images courtesy of DOOR International.

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