Best Approaches to Communicate with Deaf when using the ZOOM platform

It is ideal to use a desktop computer or laptop with a webcam and strong internet connection.

Your phone or tablet can work, but they are limited to a certain number of video windows. They may not have all the same functions that are available on a computer or laptop.
Make sure that you are in “GALLERY VIEW”. In the upper right corner, there is a button for “SPEAKER VIEW” or “GALLERY VIEW”.

Try familiarize yourself with the ZOOM functions and their locations on your screen.
Having the virtual background may blur your signing, so it is advisable to turn it off for easy viewing for Deaf.

Mirroring the video will confuse you if you are learning Sign Language online. So, please disable the mirror effect.
Deaf and hard of hearing rely on sign language and visual cues that is normally shown on the face and body.

NO SIDELIGHT/BACKLIGHT, PLEASE!
So, avoid having the lights behind your back. Also avoid sitting your back to the window. The “SHADY FACE” will be formed, that is, half of their face is shaded or blocked in some way.

Recommended having one steady lamp, directly by your face, for even, steady lighting.
When using Sign Language or interpreters, you are strongly encouraged to turn off autofocus on your webcam.
Sign Language does not focus on hands only. This has its different components; they are seen on the face and body.

So, please reframe yourself from the head to the waist. Also, ensure that your face, hands and body can be seen in the video box/window.
When reframing yourself in the video window, please try keeping an appropriate distance between the computer/laptop and your body.
If you do not know Sign Language, you can use the ZOOM Chat to message the users (publicly) so that Deaf and hard of hearing can be part of the conversations. #inclusivity
Closed captioning for Deaf on the ZOOM platform is not as what you think.

It requires you to type, or to assign someone to type for Deaf, especially when you have more than 2 hearing persons in the meeting.

OR you can engage the paid third-party captioning services. Please check for more details from https://support.zoom.us/…/207279736-Closed-Captioning

UPDATED (8 SEP 2020):
New Accessibility features in Zoom for the Deaf and Hard-of-hearing users!

1. Multi-pin and multi-spotlight (on Windows & macOS)
With host permission, users will now be able to pin up to 9 participants on their end. The host can also spotlight up to 9 participants for everyone in the meeting.

2. Custom gallery view organization (on Windows & macOS)
Host and co-host can now re-order the gallery view to suit their needs, and choose whether to deploy this view to participants, or allow participants to create their own custom views. Simply click and drag videos to the position you want them in gallery view, and this layout will remain in place until released.

Learn more at https://support.zoom.us/…/360048388632-New-Updates-for…

Alternatives to meet Deaf needs in Singapore

Microsoft Translator
Google Live Transcribe

Attached here are two YouTube videos embedded here in this blog entry as I have explored these two mobile applications in some situations where the sign language interpreters were not available to interpret for groups of 3 deaf consumers (including myself). They could be possible alternatives to meeting the deaf needs in Singapore.

You need to understand why we encourage you to consider these alternatives to enable d/Deaf people to know what’s going on every day. Look, we have only 6 full-time sign language interpreters in Singapore; they work for the Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf). They could not meet every request from approximately 5,600 deaf clients who are registered with the SADeaf. They are human; they need break for themselves. They have their lives to lead. We cannot expect them to make sacrifices for the d/Deaf people. If you wish to join the team of sign language interpreters or other access support, you need to understand and immerse in our Deaf world.

Alright, let’s explore these two mobile applications that I have tried so far. As I have my iPhone with me, I have the Microsoft Translator application downloaded in my phone. This supports Android, iOS and Windows. With this application, my two deaf acquaintances were able to participate in discussions with people with other disabilities. However, transcription is not very accurate; I could say 80%.

Next, the Google Live Transcribe application is better alternative. It supports Android only. It does not have the presenter mode that the Microsoft Translator application has. It acts as the microphone that captures group discussion into the written form. But I hope this application can support more platforms.

When you need a sign language interpreter or notetaker for your event (let it be educational, institutional or social), please plan ahead at least 3-4 weeks’ time, in order to avoid any disappointment. If the interpreter and/or other access support is not available, you have to consider other technology accessibility. We have to keep on exploring new things as nothing is perfect for everyone. If you have any suggestions for helping d/Deaf with accessibility, you are welcome to drop us an email at contact@eohorizons.com. Or you can leave your comment below.

DISCLAIMER: The author of the above article is the director and founder of ExtraOrdinary Horizons. All opinions expressed herein are thus the personal views of contributing individual authors. They are not indicative of any endorsement, political or otherwise, or lack thereof, either on the part of the organisation.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2018

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Please mark 17 May 2018 to celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day! #gbla11yday

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) is an awareness day, focusing on accessibility, often emphasising on web accessibility. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)

Apple has a tremendous initiative of hosting the Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) in their Retail stores and offices around the world. It organises its series of events to raise awareness, to educate public on accessibility, and to host invited guests from the PWD community to share their stories/experiences at the Apple Apple Orchard Retail store (270 Orchard Road). #todayatapple #appleorchardroad

Details as follows:

Date: Friday, 18 May
Time: 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Lily Goh is the founder of ExtraOrdinary Horizons, a social enterprise that teaches sign language and provides public services. Lily is a seasoned artist who performs song-signing and mallet percussion.

To register: https://www.apple.com/…/music-lab-lily-goh-6400782977525515…

Date: Sunday May 20
Live Art: Figures and Caricatures with Isaac Liang
Time: 4:00pm – 6:00pm
Join deaf illustrator Isaac Liang for Global Accessibility Awareness Day and learn about his journey around the world, sketching and painting with iPad Pro. He’ll share the fundamentals of figure drawing. Then you’ll get hands-on with iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, using lines and colour to create your own caricatures. The session will be facilitated by a sign language interpreter.

To register: https://www.apple.com/…/live-art-isaac-liang-6398202376968…/
Interested to know more about Apple products? Do check out the schedules below:

Date: Tuesday May 15
Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Hearing Loss
Time: 3:30pm – 4:30pm
To register: https://www.apple.com/…/using-ipad-and-iphone-with-hearing…/

Date: Friday May 18
Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Hearing Loss
Time: 5:00pm – 6:00pm
To register: https://www.apple.com/…/using-ipad-and-iphone-with-hearing…/

Date: Sunday May 20
Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Hearing Loss
Time: 2:00pm – 3:00pm
To register: https://www.apple.com/…/using-ipad-and-iphone-with-hearing…/

For the full line-up of GAAD events at the Apple Orchard Retail store, you can check them out at this link: https://www.apple.com/…/collection/accessibility-collection/