May 18, 2020 | 1:34 pm

Team: Qihui Bao, Max Yun, Niki Zarkub, Timothy Zhao
Course: CS160/260A: User Interface Design & Development

ASL Pal is an app dedicated to empowering deaf individuals learning to read and better understand written language. One of the greatest challenges deaf individuals face when trying to learn to read is the inability to sound-out written text. The current, available solutions are often just dictionaries between English and ASL, which work better for individuals already able to read English with ease. But what about folks who are just learning to read English, or need extra assistance? ASL Pal considers this gap, by giving users the ability to translate English to ASL completely visually, allowing deaf folks of all reading and writing abilities a way to translate words they see every day into ASL.

To better understand the needs of deaf folks when it comes to learning to read, the team worked with members of the deaf community and the Berkeley Hearing Center and Center for Early Intervention on Deafness. Through their research, they learned how visual teaching deaf individuals to read is—picture books and digital media are the most-used tools, and that this tool could be an especially effective strategy for teaching deaf children to learn.

The app allows users to take photographs of words for translation, as well as a manual word-input translation feature. Users can save words that they frequently use, and study with flashcards that are generated from the words they’ve snapped with the app. There is even a word of the day feature! ASL Pal manages to expand but also streamline the process of learning to read, in an experience that is functional and educational, yet gamified and interactive. Learn more through their Behance website, presented at our Spring Design Showcase.