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ITV has developed an animated storytelling app with British and American Sign Language called Signed Stories. The purpose is to make books easier to read for children with deafness as well as those with special needs including autism, Asperger’s, dyslexia and Down Syndrome.
The app includes a mixture of sign language and subtitles, narration, animation and music. ITV is creating digital versions of a wide range of picture books that includes contemporary stories, updated folktales and fairytales.
The Signed Stories app is now free to download through Apple’s all store on iOS devices including the iPad, iPhone. All books featured within the app will be individually priced.
Users are able to customize the app to suit their individual needs. Parents, caregivers and teachers can benefit from the app’s guidance notes on how to get the most out of each book. Subtitles can be customised to improve reading for dyslexic children. It also comes with a free British Sign Language or American Sign Language video dictionary, which grows each time a new book is downloaded. The iPad app also carries free sign language learning games with every story downloaded.
The app was tested by deaf children, children with special educational needs and their parents before its launch.
The translation of brands and names is a sensitive issue that not only affect written languages; sign language translations can also be ambiguous or unsuitable. Hunter Spanjer is a three years old deaf child that has been told by a Nebraska public school to change his name sign, as it resembles a gun, or face expulsion.
Hunter has slightly modified the SEE (Sign Exact English) sign by crossing his fingers, which his family claims makes it personal to him. Signing Exact English (SEE) is a manual communication system used by most deaf children and based on the American Sign Language (ASL).
According to Grand Island Public School's board policy 8470, students are prohibited from possessing, handling or transmitting a “firearm, weapon” or anything that “looks like a weapon.”
However, the school has so far failed to provide an adequate explanation for how a three-year-old's crossed index and middle fingers could be grounds for expulsion from the school, and a spokesperson has said it is trying to arrive at the “best possible solution” for the child.
A number of civil rights groups have criticized the school’s policies, which effectively mean that the child would either have to change the way he signs his name or be deprived of the right to education. A letter was sent to the local school district by the American Civil Liberties Union, "politely asking them to rethink their position."
Howard Rosenblum, CEO of the National Association of the Deaf, said “A name sign is the equivalent of a person's name, and to prohibit a name sign is to prohibit a person's name.”
Many people have been amazed by the school’s extreme policies. Among the many comments received, one user says, "I never realised that there were people who could be so ignorant about sign language and to treat a young child like that is unspeakable."
Does this incident show a lack of understanding of sign language?
From productivity to presentations, travel to time management, these apps for business are like the perfect PA - in your pocket. It’s now possible to run a small empire from your smartphone, from downloading documents to editing in Excel to holding a meeting via Skype in the back of a taxi. And there’s new apps released every day to help you squeeze more minutes out the day, find the best business travel deals and build a killer network.
Best apps for productivity
A voice recognition app, ideal for transcribing meetings. Dictations can be posted straight to social networking sites - though the accuracy is a bit suspect, so probably best check first. Free; iOS.
Tasks keeps a note of your appointments, meetings, notes, to-do lists and other things more typically consigned to Post-It notes. £0.69; iOS.
A personal assistant without the paycheck, Astrid is an organisation app with reminders, subtasks, lists, and widgets that synch across phones, tablets and Astrid.com. Free; iOS and Android.
Always forget to turn your phone off before meetings? Locale lets you set up quiet zones so that whenever your phone is in a certain location it automatically switches to silent - and turns the ringer back on as soon as you move on. Free; Android.