The debate about captions versus sign language is a good one to have.
Kate Matairavula (Letters, July 24) points to a critical situation where Auslan (Australian Sign Language) is a fantastic method of communication; namely, face-to-face conversations between Auslan users. Ai-Live is designed for a very different, but equally critical, setting.
Ai-Live is designed to meet the specific educational needs of deaf and hearing impaired students in mainstream classrooms; providing direct access to spoken English via word-accurate English captions – without the need for sign language as an intermediate step. Today’s Aussie deaf kids need solid English literacy to ensure their employment options are maximised in an inclusive and broadband-enabled labour market.
With Ai-Live, for the first time, deaf students and parents now have a choice between using captioning and Auslan interpreting at school. People will no doubt make informed choices about how and when they use different communication options based on what works in each situation.
Lest anyone fear that captions will kill Auslan, our experience at Ai-Media suggests quite the reverse. Having deaf colleagues in the workplace or at school is one of the best motivators for others to learn Auslan (with the Auslan tutor on the iPhone, this has never been easier). The top two signs at work are “coffee” and “lunch”.
Can we all agree that achieving the genuine inclusion of deaf and hearing impaired people in society demands better than a one-size-fits-all approach to communication?
CEO, Access Innovation Media