"The idea behind it is that a deaf person can communicate any time, anywhere with these," said Lori Colwell, language program coordinator for Olathe. "It's a lot more convenient than paper and pen; it's a lot faster than paper and pen."With a growing but large deaf/Deaf population in the Olathe area near Kansas City, Missouri, the UbiDuo is a proven marketing concept where it helps provide greater communication access to those who need it.
It also could be a partial remedy for a town that's short on sign language interpreters.
So far, some users have reported mostly positive results with the devices.
For Hyten, it was a welcome departure from the old message-scribbling routine.
"It did seem to significantly increase the ease of communication," Hyten said. "And it seemed to alleviate the frustration of communication on both sides."
The Olathe Police Department has been using the computers on a trial basis as well. Police Chief Janet Thiessen said that while it probably wouldn't be the best use in situations like longer interviews and interrogations, it has a practical side in more common traffic stops and other short-term situations in which an officer will have limited interaction with a deaf person.
Like any other city department, contacts with the deaf community aren't rare for police officers.
"For us, the contacts are very frequent, and it could go anywhere from a call to someone's home to traffic stops," Thiessen said. In other places in the city, it's being used where deaf employees work so they can interact better with co-workers.
The city will test it until Dec. 20, after which the city will decide whether to purchase dozens of the computers on a permanent basis.
"People that have tested with it have absolutely loved it," Colwell said. "When they get one of these UbiDuos, suddenly they're not as isolated as they were before because the communication barrier...is not as large as it was before."
The UbiDuo will be tested in the Olathe Public Library's main branch as well as the following City departments: Office of Human Relations, the City Clerk's Office, the Olathe Police Department and departments that deaf employees work in for the City.
Once the test period ends, the City will decide whether or not to continue the service based on information received from participating departments and the deaf or hard of hearing community.
"We have sign language interpreters on staff at the City of Olathe, but it is impossible for them to be all places at all times. The UbiDuo gives us another option to ensure that our deaf and hearing populations will be able to freely, effectively, and efficiently communicate with each other, said Language Program Coordinator Lori Colwell.
The City's sign language interpreters are available to work at City-operated events, at no charge, when requested by the public. However it is becoming increasingly harder to fill interpreter requests with growing demand for these services from the public and City staff.
Imagine what a communication device can do in cities, towns and businesses all across the United States.
Read the rest of the Kokonut Pundits blog stories on the UbiDuo communication device and the company, sComm, Inc.
Like the blogpiece? Want to help a blogger? Donate!