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Can glove interpreting sign language actually benefit the deaf community?

By Mavic Conde

The innovation that uses gloves to interpret Filipino sign language into speech has earned praises among fellow Filipinos online. Many of them take pride in replicating the technology for Filipinos.

Media site Sagisag PH features the thesis of college students from Camarines Sur Polytechnic Colleges (CSPC) which uses “trainable gloves that can interpret Filipino sign language and convert it into speech.” Since it was posted on Facebook five days ago, it has recorded 1.4 million views and 47 thousand shares.

In the online feature, one of the students was quoted saying the innovation could help lessen the communication barrier between the deaf and speech-impaired people and the hearing people.

But it also attracted cautionary remarks on whether this kind of technology could really help the deaf community or mainly serve the hearing people.

In the US, the same observations were made about this kind of technology several years ago. “The concept of the gloves is to render ASL intelligible to hearing people who don’t know how to sign, but this misses and utterly overlooks so many of the communication difficulties and frustrations that deaf people can already face,” according to the Atlantic.

The article added that sign languages are distinct languages with their own grammar and phonologies. Just like we take pride in being multilingual, according to the same source, technologies that truly serve the deaf community should encourage the hearing community to be multimodal.

Why? Because it can open many possibilities for communication for all of us without making a minority group feeling inadequate simply because their language is different.


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