The deaf-blind can now 'watch' television without intermediaries

May 22, 2017, Carlos III University of Madrid
PervasiveSUB compiles all the subtitles of television channels and sends them to a central server which forwards them to smartphones or tablets. Credit: UC3M

Today Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), Telefónica and the Federation of Deaf-Blind Persons Associations has developed PervasiveSUB, groundbreaking software that allows deaf-blind persons to receive and enjoy television content without intermediaries in real time.

PervasiveSUB compiles all the subtitles of and sends them to a central server, which forwards them to smartphones or tablets. From there, they are transmitted to the Braille line used by deaf-blind people through the GoAll app, which integrates the software, It is compatible with different Braille lines and controls the speed of the subtitles that are captured directly from the TV broadcast in perfect synchronization.

García Crespo, who headed the group, said, "One of the big problems deaf-blind people face is the scant public attention they receive, which is demonstrated by the fact that they weren't recognized by the European Parliament until 2004."

Díaz-Lladó said, "At Telefónica, we endeavor to become a more accessible company and contribute to equal opportunities for all. And although we still have a long way to go, these new inclusive technologies and the digital revolution are the best means to help us get there."

A group of deaf-blind users from FASOCIDE tested the software in Spain and the United States with very satisfactory results. The subjects highlighted the advantage of being able to access previously unobtainable information in and without intermediaries, and also praised its ability to transmit to Braille lines and the ability to adjust the reading and viewing speed.

Given the success of these tests, the technology has already been implemented on all the national DTT channels and regional DTT channels in Madrid, and it will soon be available in the other autonomous regions of Spain. The research team is now providing this service free of charge to anyone who needs it. Interested parties need only to download the GoAll app, available on iOS and Android.

Deaf-blind persons suffer a combined deterioration of sight and hearing, which impedes their access to information, communication and mobility in a way that seriously affects everyday abilities necessary for a minimally independent life. This is why they require specialized services, personnel trained specifically to care for them, and special methods of communication.

Explore further: New research paints a merciless picture of life as a deaf-blind person

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