Asia-Pacific Feb 17, 2017
NEW DELHI: A group of Delhi University (DU) students have created a mobile app to help people with hearing disabilities enjoy personalised tours of historical monuments and heritage sites in the city. The app comes with its own sign interpreter, providing all the information required.
“We have only 250 certified interpreters all over the country for a population of over 18 million people with hearing disabilities,” says Manish Narayan, 24, BA (H), Social Sciences student. Narayan, who is specialising in Historical Tourism, and his three friends from the Cluster Innovation Centre (CIC) created the app — Sign My Tour. “The app is user-friendly and gives all the basic information to people who cannot hear a tour guide and have difficulty reading text,” he adds.
At present, the app is Android-friendly and has listed three heritage sites — Qutub Minar, Red Fort, and Humayun’s Tomb — with options for both short and long tours. The short tour option is 12-15 minutes long and includes a brief about the monument and its history. The long tour is over 30 minutes long and provides more details about the place and its history.
“We plan to include 50 more monuments by the end of 2017. Some of the less popular sites, such as Jantar Mantar, Old Fort, Feroz Shah Kotla, and Tughlaqabad Fort will also be included,” Narayan says. The team has now approached the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE) with the project details to get funding for the plan.
Before launching the app, the CIC innovators’ team, along with an interpreter from the National Association of Deaf (NAD), took a group of people with hearing disabilities to Humayun’s Tomb for an initial reaction.
“The response was beyond heartwarming for all of us working on the project. All the participants said they had never had such an experience while visiting heritage sites before and looked forward to more such tours,” says Surbhi Taneja, an interpreter, who has been freelancing for NAD since 2010 and has been associated with the organisation since she was 10 years old as both her parents are people with hearing disabilities. Currently, she is also working full-time with the Skill Council for Persons with Disability (SPCWD).
“In 45 years of, I never did not know anything about the Mughals. I knew that Humayun’s Tomb existed, but I got real access into that world for the first time,” says Anuj Jain, a NAD person with disability.
Meanwhile, the CIC members have launched a company called DeafCom, which is looking at designing more such apps to make the life of people with hearing disabilities more comfortable. “This is an attempt to provide these people with some leisure time,” says Narayan.