Pakistan Sign Language
Pakistan Sign Language (PSL) is Pakistan’s first online sign language dictionary which is extensive and free. It aims to cater to the hearing-impaired by providing them a means to learn and augment their sign language vocabulary so that the quality of their conversations is enhanced. It also aims to empower the instructors of the hearing-impaired by providing them quick assistance while they are teaching.
With the rapid expansion of the PSL dictionary to a few thousand words, the organization required for the dictionary to be available digitally to hearing impaired, deaf people and users interested in learning PSL. The language needed to be made available on the website and on 1000 Raspberry Pis to be distributed nationwide.
In order for our team to take the dictionary digital we had to understand current human behaviour in regards to how sign language was being taught in classrooms. We followed a Human Centered Design approach where we designed everything from the end-users perspective. Additionally the approach was co-creative where all stakeholders were involved in the design process.
We visited several schools in Karachi, Hyderabad and Nawabshah to observe challenges that the students and teachers faced in teaching the Pakistan Sign Language. It was essential for us to identify and understand the role digital played in teaching the language. Users pain-points, included access to signs of words, searching for existing words and curating content for delivering classes.
We designed new ways of accessing words through easy to understand categories and search functions. In addition, users now have the capabilities to save and create play-lists for quick access to their favourite words and stories. Teaching guides were also created for teachers who wanted to learn how to facilitate the learning of sign language in classrooms. Additionally the product enabled users to request signs for words which did not previously exist.
This project was not just to make a digital website or platform, but to enable communication and empower the deaf community nationwide. The 1,000 PSL Learning Units distributed to-date in 192 schools in 90 cities have impacted the lives of 63,492 students, teachers, families and entire communities. The social impact was acknowledged locally through an award from Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and ITES (P@SHA), and earned global recognition with the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) Award.
At Designist, we use a human-centered design approach to create meaningful experiences for people. We develop a deep understanding of human behaviours when interacting with products and services to create and evolve them into ones that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also functionally sound.
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