Handheld Devices For Educating Hearing Impaired In Pakistan

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Abstract---Research is conducted to show evidence of the benefits of handheld devices in educating deaf and hard of hearing students and how can this technology be successfully implemented in the institutions of Pakistan. The research will end up in figuring out a better technology and what tools and techniques could be used in helping to make education easier for disables in the coming years and will bring awareness to the institutions of Pakistan regarding educating deaf.

Methodology:

The research method that we have used is observational studies because the success and failure of our research can only be assessed in this view if people in our target audience know how to use computers. Our research will mainly be mixed i.e. qualitative and quantitative. We'll conduct surveys and have different questionnaires where we will be asking people their opinion of bringing technology in the field of education for disables and does it makes education for them more efficient and effective. And in what ways tablet PCs can be used in education to produce better results.

INTRODUCTION

Pakistan is a developing country with a very low literacy rate. Majority cannot afford education or want to get educated but cannot, because of their disabilities. A number of different problems are faced by deaf and hard of hearing children in education. Studies have shown that adaption of technology and handheld devices can reduce the problems faced by deaf students in education and can also be beneficial in increasing the literacy rate in our country. Until now, there has been little or no research in the area of adapting these handheld devices to the specific learning needs of deaf and hard of hearing students. Technology can be a motivating as well as a supporting factor in minimizing the problems faced by disable students in the field of education. It can also help disables to overcome with their weaknesses that often become a barrier in their career due to their disabilities.

Deaf Population in Pakistan

Deaf are about 4% of the whole population of Pakistan,as calculated in the year 2007[3]. This amount of population has to be prepared in a way that they should be able to contribute in the country's economy. There are many association and institutes which are working hard to make the hard of hearing Pakistanis capable of living a normal life, Pakistan Association of the Deaf and Family Educational Services Foundation are to name a few.

Educational Outcome of Deaf

Individuals who are born deaf or who are born with hearing problems, do not get that level of acceptance in the field of education as that given to normal children. Their hearing disability make them lack somewhere due to which they often do not get a chance to cope up in their education with other children. These children often discontinue their studies and in some cases do not at all join schools because of their hearing problems. This causes further decrement in the literacy rate of our country. However, there are many successful people who are deaf or hard of hearing and are performing and have performed on or above grade level. Yet, the overall performance of students who are deaf or hard of hearing is typically far below this [11].

Pakistan's Contribution towards Educating Deaf

In order to educate deaf and make them familiar with the outside world sign language is the only tool of communication. In Pakistan quite a few association working on the sign language for Pakistan which include,  Sir Syed Deaf Association (SDA), Rawalpindi, Anjuman Behbood Samat Atfal (ABSA), Karachi, and National Institute of Special Education (NISE), Islamabad to name a few. SDA under super vision of Mr. Syed Iftikhar Ahmad published a dictionary of Pakistan Sign Language containing 750 signs related to different fields of education. Since then a few other books were publish including dictionaries, story books and general knowledge books. The above mentioned contributions from the different associations of Pakistan clearly shows that our country is working on this domain and all they need is some use of handheld devices and other different technologies to provide quality education to students who are deaf and have hearing problems.

ISSUES FACED BY HEARING IMPAIRED

Opening of special schools for children who are deaf or have hearing problems is not just the solution to our problem. The important part is to discuss the major issues due to which students often face problems in their education and also to work on those issues and help make hearing impaired students feel comfortable in their education. Engagement of students is the ultimate goal for teachers in an educational environment and for this matter if a student himself is not comfortable or his disabilities are not focused, it becomes difficult for a child to learn [4]. Therefore their reading, learning, writing skills are affected and they lose the capability to compete with the other normal students.

USING HANDHELD DEVICES FOR HEARING IMPAIRED

Various different types of handheld devices are being used in different parts of the world for educating students. Devices like palmtops, I pads, and laptops, and PDA's (Personal Digital Assistance) are playing a vital role in educating students. But our goal was to search and come up with the most appropriate and efficient handheld device that can facilitate deaf and

hard of hearing students in the field of education.

After having a survey, in which opinions from different people was asked regarding handheld devices that which according tothem is the most appropriate handheld device for teaching deaf students in classrooms may it be a palmtop, a laptop, Ipads or a tablet PC. The result which we got was Tablet PC's. Majority of the people preferred tablet PC's over any other handheld device for educating deaf and hard of hearing students because of its suitable size, its portability and compatibility to different specialized softwares needed in educating deaf and hard of hearing students.

3.1. Why Tablet PC's

As discussed earlier, a variety of methods and technologies are available that can make education easier and better for deaf children. According to our study, Tablet PC is the best choice in this case not only because of its light weight and minimal design but Tablet PC's also have the potential to change and improve the educational process for children with disabilities especially deaf and hard of hearing children. The best thing about tablet computers is that they are portable, much more than a notebook or laptop computer. They are touch sensitive with great screen resolution so that even in the smaller sizes the image is crisp and well contrasted [9] [10].

Another reason for choosing tablet PC is because of the fact that children with disabilities especially deaf and hard of hearing children learn best through a visual mode. Providing an environment where a child can learn things through the use of their sense of vision is very important.

Tablet PC's have the compatibility to work with different tools and applications that can significantly change the way, deaf students interact with teachers. It adds completely new dimensions to classroom interaction by providing digital ink and drawing tools for writing, sketching, and drawing [9][10]. Voice commands can be used to control a Tablet PC. Text can also be dictated instead of using the tablet pen or keyboard. Tablet PCs have the flexibility that allows the user himself to interact with the device. Deaf or hard of hearing children have been using it with very little training and spending lots of time with educational programs including spelling, counting and other learning tools.

How Can Tablet PC's Help in Educating Hearing Impaired

Students who are deaf or have hearing problems need no longer to suffer in the field of education. Tablet PC's have brought a wide range of technologies that can facilitate deaf in their education. Many of them are being used in different parts of the world and can also be easily used in the schools of Pakistan to educate our deaf students and students who hesitate to get education because of their hearing problems. Tablet PCs contain many built in features that can help in learning disables and help improve their productivity and academic performance in reading proficiency, math, spelling, and more.

Technologies facilitating hearing impaired students using Tablet PC's

Speech to Text Systems are widely being used in other parts of the world providing many support services to a growing number of deaf and hard of hearing students. A number of deaf and hearing impaired students are being educated worldwide. Researchers concern for deaf and hard of hearing students is the challenge to make subjects like Science, Technology, engineering and Mathematics, accessible to disable students. [1]A technology named, speech to Text Systems are being used in this regard to teach deaf students. It uses graphical and non-text based information for example charts, symbols, graphs, designs and etc. to make learning easier for students [1]. These systems provide a meaning based display of what is said in class, as well as options for saving the text after class for study.

Mathematics concepts can sometimes be difficult for students having disabilities as they mainly rely on English or other written or spoken languages. For this regard, [2] Mathsigner, a 3D animation softwarecontaining sets of activities, with implementation guidelines, designed to teach math concepts, signs, and corresponding English terminology is being used in facilitating deaf children in education [2].

A portable product named, VPAD+ is being used for deaf and hard of hearing people. It is a video conferencing system which uses a videophone that works over voice over IP. The device has a touch screen, a Wi-Fi and also a Bluetooth so that it becomes easier for the user to use it where ever they go. The figure below shows an example of how is the conferencing system used in classrooms for educating deaf.

F:\PFD RR LATEST DEAF AND DUM\jun10-DHHClassroom.jpg

Figure 1. An example of Video Conferencing System used in classrooms to educate deaf

The multimedia conferencing system connects the user automatically to the person who actually interprets the voice into a sign language understood by deaf and makes it visible on the main public display of the classroom [6][7].

CONCLUSION

We conducted a survey where we asked multiple questions from the parents of deaf and teachers interacting with deaf and hard of hearing students and also studied papers related to our domain. Different handheld devices were studied and then came up with one best choice for the education of deaf.

After all the above research, we conclude that improvement on education system for deaf is being done not only in West but also steps are being taken in Pakistan in order to make education easier and make deaf students feel comfortable in the education environment.

Therefore, handheld devices combined with different latest softwares for deaf can surely bring improvement in the educational system and can act as a motivating factor for the deaf and hard of hearing people of our country. The impact of technology in the education of disable students can also help in minimizing the issues faced by these individual and make the process of education much easier for them reducing the barriers often faced by disables.

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