Jon A. Fredrickson – Vice President, Chief Innovation Officer
It’s estimated that over 32 million children around the world are deaf, and up to 80 percent do not have access to educational resources that help them learn sign language and other skills they need. Less than two percent of these children receive formal training and education in sign language or other forms of non-verbal communication. That’s why ALL Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development reached out again to partner with InnoCentive. They needed help developing and conducting an open innovation Challenge that would reach a global talent pool of educated and enlightened minds; the very people who could help develop resources for millions of children around the world who do not have access to sign language education.
About the Challenge
Sign on for Literacy was a Challenge seeking seeking technology-based innovations to increase access to sign languages and literacy interventions for children who are deaf and in low-resource contexts. InnoCentive helped craft and market the challenge to its global Solver network of over 400,000 registered prepared-minds and extended social and media reach for the challenge to potentially tens of millions of people around the world. Our Solvers heard the call loud and clear, and both InnoCentive and ALL Children Reading were very pleased with the results.
The challenge yielded a total of 104 unbelievable submissions from solvers in 39 different countries, and ALL Children Reading recently announced the three finalists:
- eKitabu will receive $150,000 (in addition to $25,000 seed funding awarded in 2018) to continue developing and implementing its Studio KSL platform, which documents Kenyan Sign Language in a visual glossary and produces KSL videos for integration into accessible books distributed across Kenya.
- RIT’s National Technical Institute of the Deaf will receive $150,000 (in addition to $25,000 seed funding awarded in 2018) to pilot its World Around You” platform in the Philippines. “World Around You” documents, collects and shares local sign and written languages through an open-content digital library of folktales offered in an interactive bilingual format.
- Manos Unidas will receive $75,000 (in addition to $25,000 seed funding awarded in 2018) to further develop its Señas de Sentido (Signs of Meaning) project, which is creating a corpus of Nicaraguan Sign Language including videos and Spanish translations, a language-learning mobile app with downloadable lessons, and a literacy outreach program to train parents of deaf children.
In addition to the three finalists, two semi-finalists were also chosen:
- Enuma, Inc. will receive $25,000 for adding a sign language mode to KitKit School, a tablet-based early learning program that helps children learn literacy and math skills independently.
- Gallaudet University Motion Light Lab, Visual Language and Visual Learning will receive $25,000 for SignShare, an open-source digital platform that enables users to create and share signed stories and resources.
All of the finalists’ solutions will undergo one more round of review in the coming months to determine which will receive an additional reward (up to $75,000), as the winner of the competition, for a total of up to $250,000. From there, ALL Children Reading will continue their work on deploying necessary resources to millions of hearing-impaired children around the world.