Kymberly Martin
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New StorySign books in Auslan

Technology multinational Huawei has expanded its StorySign app, adding two new books in Auslan – the sign language of Australia’s deaf community.

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The new books, ‘Max the Brave’ by Ed Vere and ‘All About Spot’ by Eric Hill, are now accessible on the StorySign app, which harnesses the power of Huawei artificial intelligence to translate popular children’s books into sign language to make story time possible for the deaf and hearing-impaired children.

The announcement is supported by new research commissioned by Huawei, revealing the hidden deaf literacy problem in Australia along with the importance of story time when developing literacy skills. According to the research, the vast majority of Australians believe reading bedtime stories has many benefits for children, particularly improving literacy skills (94%), encouraging imagination and creativity (94%), and helping parents to bond with their children (94%). There are 400 children born deaf every year in Australia and this creates reading challenges and ultimately impacts literacy levels, with an overwhelming number leaving school functionally illiterate.

Huawei’s StorySign ambassador, Emma ‘Yellow Wiggle’ Watkins has praised the app for its positive impact. “I’m a passionate advocate for sign language and will always be committed to supporting young children in the deaf community, so the StorySign initiative is close to my heart. I’ve witnessed first-hand the positive impact that it can have on a child’s life right now, through access to story time with parents, but also long term as it aims to improve literacy in deaf children.”

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Alongside the app expansion, Huawei Australia has continued its partnership with national charity, Deaf Australia.

“Together with Deaf Australia, our mission is to raise awareness and help address the issue of deaf literacy by extending what is humanly possible through the use of Huawei technology,” Huawei Consumer Business Group, managing director, Larking Huang said.

“With more than 35,000 app downloads, StorySign is changing the lives of deaf children in Australia and around the world. We are committed to building out this program to help improve deaf literacy and ensure all children can enjoy story time,” Huang said.

According to Deaf Australia CEO, Kyle Miers, the StorySign app, in conjunction with a smartphone and physical book, delivers the best story time experience for the deaf community. “We often struggle to source content to help address literacy challenges, but StorySign is creating an authentic reading experience.”

The two new books are in addition to the already featured children’s book ‘Where’s Spot?’ by Eric Hill, with another two books set to be announced in Australia towards the end of 2019.

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