The Asia Tech Podcast had an inspiring conversation with Arash Tayebi, the CEO at Kara Technologies. Kara Technologies is committed to using innovative technologies to make all digital content accessible to users of sign language. As with many great entrepreneurs, Arash is motivated by his own personal experience. One of the first questions I asked him was, “Why are you so interested in this issue although you are not deaf?”
Arash explained to me that, in fact, he had contracted an illness that made him partially deaf in one ear but he was concerned that he may go completely deaf in both ears over time. With the explosion of digital content, both audio and video, Arash noticed that there were no great solutions for making this content accessible for people that were deaf. As a problem solver, he started looking into this and initially thought that more prevalent closed captions could be a great solution to this problem. However, after speaking to many deaf people, he concluded that there were multiple issues with closed captions as a solution. Not the least of which was that if a deaf child was watching an animated film, that child is more likely to understand sign language than be able to read!
Arash and the team at Kara Technologies starting delving deeply into the world of sign language and have built and continue to build some very innovative tools and solutions for solving this problem. However, this is not an easy problem to solve. For one, sign language is not standardized globally, which means that signing in New Zealand (where Arash is based) can be quite different than signing in the United States or even Australia where the base language is the same. Kara is not only working to build a standard platform for digital sign language development that would enable other countries to use themselves but is also building innovative, ‘digital human’ based signers to embed into digital products. While this may also seem straight forward, one must realize that part of the grammar of sign language requires facial expressions, which can also differ across geographies and cultures.
Listen to this entire episode to truly learn about how Kara Technologies is trying to make all digital content accessible to the deaf.
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