Huawei launches StorySign app to help deaf children enjoy books

Smartphone maker Huawei has launched StorySign, an app designed to help enrich story time for deaf children and their parents. The app was developed in partnership with local charities affiliated with the European Union of the Deaf, including the British Deaf Association, publishing partner Penguin and animation specialists Aardman.

At launch, the StorySign app will feature the popular children’s book, ‘Where’s Spot?’ Developed with an understanding of sign syntax to ensure a seamless translation and user experience, StorySign helps to open the world of books to deaf children and their families; users simply hold their phone up to the words on the page and avatar Star signs the story as the printed words are highlighted. This helps parents and children to learn to read together, and at their own pace.

The app was launched with a film by Academy Award-winning director Chris Overton, best known for his critically acclaimed film The Silent Child. The film, which stars 7-year-old actress Maisie Sly, the star of The Silent Child, sees a young girl struggling to read with her father on Christmas Eve. Later that night when she sneaks downstairs to look at her presents, she is stunned to see Santa who hands her a book as a gift. Upon realising that the little girl is deaf, Santa begins to sign the book to her.

“At Huawei, we believe in the power of AI and that technology can make a positive difference in the world”, said Andrew Garrihy, CMO of Huawei Western Europe. “We created StorySign to help make it possible for families with deaf children to enjoy an enriched story time. We hope that by raising awareness of deaf literacy issues, people will be encouraged to donate to or support one of the fantastic charity partners we are working with across Europe.”

Mark Wheatley, executive director of the European Union of the Deaf said that with StorySign, Huawei is using the power of its AI and innovative technology in a meaningful way. “We’re very hopeful that it will make a significant impact in the deaf community, helping more deaf children learn how to read at the same level as hearing children,” said Wheatley. “We also hope the launch of StorySign will support a wider conversation about ensuring equality in every aspect of their lives for deaf people across Europe.”

And Jo Campion at the National Deaf Children’s Society also welcomed the launch of the app. She said: “Today’s announcement from Huawei is fantastic news, and shows the incredible potential technology companies have to transform the lives of deaf children. Too many deaf children face needless barriers in life – and this is such a simple step to make sure every deaf child who uses sign language can enjoy the magic of a good bedtime story.”

StorySign can be downloaded for free from the Huawei AppGallery and the Google Play Store in 10 markets across Western Europe.

You can watch the film and learn how you can help here. Donations can be made via the StorySign campaign hub on the Huawei website throughout December. Money raised will support deaf child literacy projects across Europe, including more books for StorySign.