Today, on International Day of Sign Languages (23rd September), Huawei has revealed that StorySign, its free mobile app that translates popular children’s books into sign language, is now available on Apple iOS, and will feature three new books in American Sign Language (ASL). With 32 million deaf children worldwide, many of whom struggle to learn to read, this news reinforces Huawei’s commitment to using technology to make the world a better place.
Used as the first sign language in the United States, Canada and territories in Africa, Asia and Central America, American Sign Language (ASL) is the world’s most widely used sign language, and marks an important step towards Huawei’s goal of helping to open the world of books to even more deaf children. Walter Ji, President of Huawei’s Western Europe Consumer Business Group, said: “At Huawei, we want to use our technology to make the world a better place – no matter where you live or what smartphone you use – whether it’s Android or iOS. 34% of the people who have downloaded the free StorySign app have become daily users, which reinforces our commitment to helping more deaf children learn to read and makes us proud to continue developing and expanding StorySign”.
Joseph Murray, President, World Federation of the Deaf, commented: “With the expansion of StorySign to new national sign languages, more deaf children than ever before will have access to this valuable learning resource. We look forward to working with Huawei on future projects around the world!”
90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents who don’t have instant access to sign language, which ultimately hinders their language acquisition. International Day of Sign Languages is an opportunity for governments, organisations and communities across the world to reflect on the modern-day challenges facing signed languages. By making StorySign even more widely available on International Day of Sign Languages, Huawei wants to help raise awareness of the challenges faced by deaf children across the world in learning to read.
Mark Wheatley, Executive Director, European Union of the Deaf, added: “The support that we have received from Huawei to date has had a genuine impact on deaf children and their families. Through our ongoing partnership, we are continuing to work closely to ensure that StorySign reaches as many families and communities as possible, helping us get one step closer to our shared ambition of helping more deaf children learn to read.”
StorySign, the free mobile app is available on both Android and iOS and comes alive with Star, the app’s friendly signing avatar developed in partnership with world-class studio Aardman and input from experts in the deaf community. Star translates a range of popular children’s books into sign language in real-time, creating a seamless reading experience and allowing deaf children to enjoy storytime, no matter what.
The announcement follows the launch of four additional avatar-signed books in the StorySign app across 11 countries (U.K., France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Portugal, Ireland, Australia) in thirteen languages earlier this year (total of 52 new books), as well as Huawei’s pledge of $500,000 to its partnership with the European Union of the Deaf (EUD) to fund additional deaf literacy projects. As part of this continued commitment, the new books including )The Lonely Penguin, Max the Brave, All About Spot and the newest releases, Ten Minutes to Bed: Little Monsters and There’s A Dragon in Your Book have all been added to the United Kingdom StorySign library this year.
Francesca Dow, Managing Director of Penguin Random House Children’s said: “We at Puffin and Ladybird are delighted to be working with StorySign, using their innovative technology to bring some of our best-loved picture books to life for deaf children and their families. We believe all children should be able to enjoy stories and we are incredibly proud of this ongoing partnership, making our books available in local sign languages in countries around the world.”
StorySign can now be downloaded worldwide for free from Google Play, the Huawei AppGallery and Apple App Store.