For decades, the end of September has been the traditional date for deaf people around the world to demand their rights, celebrate their culture and show their presence. Huawei Switzerland and the Swiss Federation of the Deaf (SGB-FSS) celebrated this important day together in 2019. Live Lab created a fairyland for the occasion: On a green flower meadow, passers-by could experience sign language and try out the Huawei StorySign app for themselves.
For deaf children, learning to read is particularly challenging because they cannot match spoken sounds to letters, and thus cannot match printed words to the things they stand for. As literacy is an important gateway to education, Huawei, together with the European Union of the Deaf and locally with the Swiss Federation of the Deaf (SGB-FSS), has developed the free app StorySign. The app translates children’s books into sign language in real time, helping children learn to read in a playful way.
Protected under a round tent, we set up a fabulous fairyland for Huawei on Bern’s Bahnhofplatz to raise awareness about this important topic on the International Day of Sign Languages. On the cosy carpet meadow full of colourful beanbags, visitors young and old could try out Huawei’s StorySign app at their leisure and use it to read the children’s books provided. Hostesses dressed up as StorySign avatars “Star” explained the app and helped with its operation if needed. At the edge of the meadow, the kids were able to transform themselves into fabulous creatures by having their faces painted.
Outside the fairytale tent, it was primarily the older visitors who were addressed. The Swiss Federation of the Deaf (SGB-FSS) held crash courses in Swiss sign language, which were well received. The lessons learned could be put to good use right next door in the “Café des Signes”: The pop-up café, attracted passers-by right next to the fairytale tent with delicious hot drinks. Through interaction with the exclusively deaf “Cafe des Signes” service staff, language barriers were easily broken down.
As the highlight of the day, Huawei StorySign ambassador Christa Rigozzi invited the audience to a story time in the tent in the afternoon. The audience followed the stories, which were simultaneously translated into sign language, enthusiastically and with wide eyes – regardless of whether they were deaf, hearing-impaired or hearing.