Device Reads Sign Language Out Loud

February 14, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. out loud /aʊt laʊd/ (adv.) – spoken loudly to be clearly heard
Example: She was embarrassed because he revealed her secret out loud.

2. prayer beads /prɛər bids/ (n. phrase) – a string of beads that are used to count prayers being recited
Example: The Buddhist monk holds his prayer beads with both hands while praying. 

3. beforehand /bɪˈfɔrˌhænd, -ˈfoʊr-/ (adv.) – in advance; earlier than scheduled time
Example: When you travel, you should prepare everything beforehand to avoid delay.

4. inventiveness /ɪnˈvɛntɪvnɪs/ (n.) – the state of being very creative and original
Example: The expert’s inventiveness allowed him to make innovative creations. 

5. doubtful /ˈdaʊtfəl/ (adj.) – not sure about something
Example: Many people do not purchase the new product because they are doubtful of its effectiveness.


Read the text below.
A recent invention allows people to read sign language and translate it into spoken language.

This new device called the Sign Language Ring was created by six designers from Asia University, which is based in Taiwan. The device is composed of multiple rings and two bracelets inspired by Buddhist prayer beads.

The rings of the device are designed to read the movements of the hands of the user. The bracelet then reads the words out loud. If the person the user is talking to responds orally, the device can translate the spoken words into text. The text is displayed on the bracelet.

To make communication easier, the user can also record certain movements beforehand. Users can even record conversational shortcuts and slangs.  Because of its inventiveness, the device won one of the highly coveted awards at the 2013 Red Dot Design Concept Awards, an international design competition that accepted more than 15, 500 applications.

However, no matter how seemingly useful this device is, it still received criticisms. Some people from the deaf community are doubtful of the device’s ability to effectively translate sign language into spoken words.

Guillaume [gee-YOHM] Chastel, a senior lecturer from the University of Rochester [ROCH-es-ter, -uh-ster] in New York, also said the device can make a mistake in the translation. Others also worry that the device could overlook very crucial information.

Nevertheless, Chastel still acknowledges the usefulness of the device because sign language interpreters are not always available. Also, the device can help deaf people with many minor activities,   like running errands.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         If you were deaf, would you be willing to use this device? Explain.
·         What do you think are the advantages of making this device in the form of a ring and a bracelet? Please explain.

Discussion B

·         What other devices can be useful to people with disabilities? Please discuss briefly.
·         Should experts focus more on inventing helpful devices for the disabled? Why or why not?


February 14, 2014