Original Research

A proposed artificial intelligence-based real-time speech-to-text to sign language translator for South African official languages for the COVID-19 era and beyond: In pursuit of solutions for the hearing impaired

Milka C. Madahana, Katijah Khoza-Shangase, Nomfundo Moroe, Daniel Mayombo, Otis Nyandoro, John Ekoru
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 69, No 2 | a915 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v69i2.915 | © 2022 Milka Madahana, Katijah Khoza-Shangase, Nomfundo Moroe, Daniel Mayombo, Otis Nyandoro, John Ekoru | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 January 2022 | Published: 19 August 2022

About the author(s)

Milka C. Madahana, School of Electrical and Information Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Katijah Khoza-Shangase, Department of Audiology, School of Human and Community Development, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Nomfundo Moroe, Department of Audiology, School of Human and Community Development, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Daniel Mayombo, School of Electrical and Information Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Otis Nyandoro, School of Electrical and Information Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
John Ekoru, School of Electrical and Information Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


Share this article

Bookmark and Share

Abstract

Background: The emergence of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in communication being heightened as one of the critical aspects in the implementation of interventions. Delays in the relaying of vital information by policymakers have the potential to be detrimental, especially for the hearing impaired.

Objectives: This study aims to conduct a scoping review on the application of artificial intelligence (AI) for real-time speech-to-text to sign language translation and consequently propose an AI-based real-time translation solution for South African languages from speech-to-text to sign language.

Methods: Electronic bibliographic databases including ScienceDirect, PubMed, Scopus, MEDLINE and ProQuest were searched to identify peer-reviewed publications published in English between 2019 and 2021 that provided evidence on AI-based real-time speech-to-text to sign language translation as a solution for the hearing impaired. This review was done as a precursor to the proposed real-time South African translator.

Results: The review revealed a dearth of evidence on the adoption and/or maximisation of AI and machine learning (ML) as possible solutions for the hearing impaired. There is a clear lag in clinical utilisation and investigation of these technological advances, particularly in the African continent.

Conclusion: Assistive technology that caters specifically for the South African community is essential to ensuring a two-way communication between individuals who can hear clearly and individuals with hearing impairments, thus the proposed solution presented in this article.


Keywords

artificial intelligence; COVID-19; hearing impaired; machine learning; speech; South Africa; text; translation; sign language

Metrics

Total abstract views: 1031
Total article views: 566

 

Crossref Citations

1. The impact of COVID-19 on speech–language and hearing professions in low- and middle-income countries: Challenges and opportunities explored
Katijah Khoza-Shangase, Nomfundo Moroe, Joanne Neille, Anita Edwards
South African Journal of Communication Disorders  vol: 69  issue: 2  year: 2022  
doi: 10.4102/sajcd.v69i2.937