In a moment when universities need the latest technology more than ever, Gallaudet University has announced two important partnerships with Apple and AppTek, which aim to provide its deaf and hard-of-hearing students with tools necessary to succeed in an increasingly technological world.
As the fall term commences, Gallaudet University has announced a couple exciting pieces of news for its deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Gallaudet is a federally chartered private university for the education of the deaf and hard of hearing located in Washington, D.C. In a statement on Thursday morning, Gallaudet University President Roberta J. Cordano announced that the university would begin a partnership with Apple to improve access and expand academic and career opportunities for Gallaudet students.
In her statement, the president said, “Beginning this fall, Gallaudet will provide all students and faculty with an iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and SmartFolio for iPad Pro to support their learning and teaching. Students and teachers at the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center will also participate in this new initiative.”
Providing students better access to the most up-to-date technology, the partnership will also establish an Apple scholarship program for students of color with disabilities. The scholarship will go to students pursuing studies in information technology, computer science, and other science, technology, and math related fields.
“Gallaudet has been at the forefront of advancing education and acceptance of Deaf culture in this country for more than 150 years,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. “We are honored to work together with this incredible institution to create even more opportunities for Gallaudet students and for all underserved and underrepresented communities.”
Furthermore, through the Connected Gallaudet initiative, Gallaudet students will participate in research projects to design bilingual applications. One project in particular was also announced this week, which revealed a partnership between Gallaudet University and AppTek, a leader in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for automatic speech recognition (ASR) and machine translation (MT).
This application aims to provide video conference participants with live closed captions and deliver more control of the user interface (UI), allowing users to enhance the readability of real-time conversation transcripts and enjoy a more meaningful flow of spoken content.
“While much of the world is relying heavily on videoconferencing applications to communicate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, commonly used applications unfortunately do not provide reliable, real-time capabilities that allow deaf and hard of hearing participants to engage fully,” said Mike Veronis, AppTek Chief Revenue Officer and Program Manager for the 21st Century Closed Captioning project. “We are passionate about and humbled at the opportunity to collaborate with Gallaudet on bridging that gap by developing new tools to give the deaf community greater freedom, control, and access to virtual communication.”
Integrating AppTek’s ASR platform, the application will incorporate the latest AI and ML technologies to enable this assistive service, which will be available to users on demand. Over time, Gallaudet also intends to incorporate multilingual capabilities using AppTek’s Multilingual Automatic Speech Recognition and Neural Machine Translation technologies.
Along with new technology and the application development project, Gallaudet University will also grant some students the opportunity to take part in the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (AWDC) through the partnership with Apple. The annual event brings together over 5,000 developers, innovators, and entrepreneurs for engineering sessions, forums, laboratories, and keynote presentations about the latest app and software innovation.