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Press release issued: 1 March 2001

WISDOM - a project for the deaf community

Today sees the start of the world's first 3G (Third Generation) project for the deaf - WISDOM (Wireless Information Services for Deaf People on the Move). In the three year, six million euro project, deaf people will for the first time, have an opportunity to help shape the next generation of mobile telecommunications, to make it an inclusive and all-encompassing technology.

Funded and sponsored by the European Commission Directorate-General Information Society, WISDOM brings together ten key partners from the mobile communications industry, research and deaf organisations, to investigate the problems deaf people encounter with mobile communications and develop practical visual communications services over 3G networks.

The WISDOM partners Vodafone UK Limited, Ericsson España Research Department (EEM), Motion Media, research centres in the University of Bristol and Aachen University of Technology (Germany), Omnitor and Envilogg (Sweden), the Örebrö Tolkcentralen Interpreters Centre and deaf organisations in Sweden, Vaestanvik Resours and the UK, the British Deaf Association, will focus on providing terminals, applications and services for deaf people on the move. Specific emphasis will be placed on providing video sign language information to deaf people anywhere, anytime, and sign language relay and remote interpretation services, so that deaf people can communicate with hearing people and vice versa.

Professor Jim Kyle of the University of Bristol's Centre for Deaf Studies, said: 'Communication is crucial to the inclusion of deaf people in our society. By tackling this head on, we can provide visual communication for deaf people and create applications that everyone will use in the third generation networks of the future. Once the afterthought of the technology society, deaf people will now become the yardstick of the success of mobile telecommunications in the 21st century.'

'The development of 3G networks will be a major social and technological leap for the deaf community,' agreed Paul Donovan, Managing Director - Commercial at Vodafone UK Limited. 'The provision of information and mobile communication for everyone, including groups such as the hard of hearing, deaf, visually impaired, blind and the elderly, is of prime importance to Vodafone. We have already taken part in projects for the deaf with the University of Bristol and are therefore delighted to be a WISDOM partner. We believe that this project will deliver key application innovations that will impact everyone'.

Chief Executive of the British Deaf Association, Jeff McWhinney, observes: 'The WISDOM project is a major breakthrough for deaf people. For the first time, they will be able to communicate with each other at a distance in their own language, sign language. Significantly they will also be able to reach information in sign language, at any time and from anywhere. Since WISDOM will also incorporate text communication, it will create new opportunities for all deaf and hard of hearing people who have been excluded from telecommunications.'

WISDOM will consult with the deaf community, conducting trials and developing mobile devices. Video information servers will be set up to provide video on demand, video sign mail, text interaction and interactive distance learning.

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Copyright: 2001 The University of Bristol, UK
Updated: Thursday, 01-Mar-2001 17:41:11 GMT

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