Requirements for deaf and hard of hearing people on mobile networks

There are several aspects which need to be taken care of in order to maintain compatibility between 3G cellular networks and equipment used by deaf people for telecommunications.

http://www.etsi.org/cce/proceedings/4_4.htm discusses several of those aspects.

Now, can someone invent a way to levitate a 3G cellular phone before a deaf user, so that the deaf user can communicate using Sign Language and have the cellular phone transmit his message via video? Otherwise, one-handed Sign Language dialect may have to be invented for each Sign Language in use.

Several years ago I wrote a report – Impact of New Telecommunication Technologies on the Deaf – which was based upon projections of future technological developments. It is interesting to review the report from today’s perspective and marvel at how much reality differs from forecasts.

  • Videophone capability is now available everywhere there is fast Internet.
  • FAX machines in Israel now are reasonably priced, and deaf people, who buy them, get tax rebates.
  • I personally have been involved in Hebrew localization of the Nokia 9110 and 9210i cellular FAXes in Ozicom Communications Ltd.
  • “Computerized information systems” are now very popular under the names “Internet”, “WWW”.
  • When the report was written, access to the Internet in Israel was allowed only to academic institutions and Hi-Tech companies, due to the monopoly of Bezeq on all forms of electronic communications. Liberalization happened at 1994, few months after the report was written. All forms of electronic communications still flowed through Bezeq’s veins at least part of the way.
  • 056 services were moved to other prefixes, as the 05* prefixes were assigned to cellular phone companies. They are a niche market, mostly for “adult activities”.
  • Computerized speech recognition is not here yet, at least for Hebrew.
  • The technology to contact emergency dispatch centers exists, but it needs to be properly deployed.

Author: Omer Zak

I am deaf since birth. I played with big computers which eat punched cards and spew out printouts since age 12. Ever since they became available, I work and play with desktop size computers which eat keyboard keypresses and spew out display pixels. Among other things, I developed software which helped the deaf in Israel use the telephone network, by means of home computers equipped with modems. Several years later, I developed Hebrew localizations for some cellular phones, which helped the deaf in Israel utilize the cellular phone networks. I am interested in entrepreneurship, Science Fiction and making the world more accessible to people with disabilities.

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