Hearing Impairment and Smart Glasses

The challenge facing the ASL community

In the United States alone, over 1 million people are considered “functionally deaf. For this community, the sense of sight is their primary communication tool. A network of nearly 500,000 American Sign Language users allow this social demographic to have control over their lives.

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However, most hearing impaired Americans are over 65. Regrettably, the ability to learn a new language later in life is a far greater challenge than doing so in one’s teens.

Moreover, those who rely on the ASL network are limited by its size. With less than half a million speakers, deaf and hard-of-hearing people must routinely seek out new ways to navigate a hearing person’s world.

ASL helps the deaf and hard-of-hearing navigate a hearing person’s world
Credit: The Aggie

ASL made easy

In search of solutions, researchers and the community have looked towards technology. As a result, hearing aids have rapidly advanced, assisting even the most inactive ear drums. Furthermore, implants have cured many patients of hearing loss, eliminating the obstacle of deafness altogether.

However, not all of the 350 million people worldwide with hearing issues can be cured. Regrettably, ways to live with the problem must still be sought out.

Enter smart glasses. Already, real-time language transcription software allows wearers to understand one another - no matter how talented their tongues may be.

The Vuzix Blade allows users to experience Pro Football Hall of Fame presentations with captions
Credit: Auganix

The AR era

Essentially, it’s the equivalent of giving everyone subtitles in real life. This could soon be possible for ASL speakers on the Vuzix Blade.

Recently, Vuzix teamed with SignGlasses to give hearing impaired visitors to the Pro Football Hall of Fame a more immersive experience. Captioning is displayed in the glasses’ lenses during presentations.

The potential applications of this technology are endless. In the near future, smart glasses could eliminate any barriers faced by deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals.

Ultimately, these sleek specs could bridge communication gaps caused by uncommon languages.

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