The iCommunicator Story:
Creating the finest software for people who are
Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing...
In October 1999, Interactive Solutions, Inc. (ISI), a subsidiary of Teltronics, Inc., was approached by a family whose son was profoundly deaf. The young man, Morgan Greene, was 16 years old and a sophomore in high school. Though Morgan had a full-time sign language interpreter he still had a 4th grade literacy level in 10th grade. He had requested that his parents help him find a company to design and develop a computer that would enable him to communicate with the hearing world when a sign language interpreter was not available.
The family contacted Interactive Solutions and requested that the company develop a product based on its extensive experience with voice recognition applications. The Company agreed to analyze the concept and determine technical feasibility and market opportunity. The Company's research revealed several significant conclusions.
Morgan using iCommunicator in School
There was no competitive technology capable of converting spoken language into sign language in a form that could be successfully utilized by an individual who was deaf or hard-of-hearing for the purposes of communication or education. The United States Census Bureau reports that in the U.S. alone the hard-of-hearing and deaf population is approximately 28 million people. Of that 28 million over 4 million are considered profoundly deaf. An additional 8 million Americans have a hearing loss so significant they are considered legally disabled. Of these 12 million individuals, the vast majority leave the United States public educational system with less than a sixth grade reading level, and suffer from lack of education or career opportunity.
The deficit in the number of students with hearing loss who require assistance for communication and education vs. the number of sign language interpreters is staggering. Additionally, less than 10 percent of all parents of deaf children are fluent in sign language.
Most significantly, the entire population of persons who are hard-of-hearing and deaf is the subject of several federal laws that mandate they receive equal access to education and employment under any and all circumstances.
Over the next 14 months ISI worked diligently to create a solution to the issues surrounding communication and education of persons who face communication challenges and, in particular, individuals who are hard-of-hearing and profoundly deaf. By March 2000, the Company had produced a software package that translates the human voice into text, sign language, and delivers a clean, audible computer-generated voice directly to the end user. The computer-generated voice is conveyed by either hardwired or wireless transmission and sent directly to hearing aids, cochlear implant speech processor, or FM system.
In March 2005, PPR Inc., purchased iCommunicator from Teltronics. "Believing that iCommunicator has barely scratched the surface in terms of helping people with disabilities", says Steve Bruner, iCommunicator's Vice President, "PPR has vowed to support and expand iCommunicator, allowing it to take advantage of new and upcoming technologies."
The combination of real-time voice to text conversion, the ability to recognize 30,000 words with our database of over 9,000 individual sign language video clips and the simultaneous delivery of the computer generated voice, facilitates comprehension of the spoken word. The user can then type a response into the computer upon which the iCommunicatorô software resides. The computer then speaks for the end user, creating fluent two-way conversation.
The iCommunicator's use of computer software and hardware to interface with the end user's hearing aids, cochlear implant speech processor, or FM system positions the product squarely within the guidelines of the federal regulations mandating the delivery of assistive or accessible technology by our public school systems, as well as every other federal or state government agency nationwide. The iCommunicator is a breakthrough technology solution to the issues surrounding education of persons with special communication needs as well as their accessibility into the today's competitive business world.
Today, the iCommunicator is being used in K-12 education, post-secondary institutions, government, healthcare, and corporate settings across the United States and Canada.
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