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An Android Sign Language Translator for Enhancing Academic Discussions Between Impaired and Non-hearing-impaired Learners

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The conclusions of this study demonstrate the overall understanding of the research problem by presenting the researcher's thoughts and implications of the study; they also demonstrate the significance of the study. This section focuses on the definition of requirements, sign language translator design, implementation, and evaluation.

1. Determining of requirements

This study concludes that the schools had inadequate technology infrastructure to support learning in determining the requirements. Other results showed that most learners were P7 candidates and had little knowledge of AT. In addition, the majority agreed to have used AT to interact with non- hearing-impaired learners. When it comes to ICT skills and usage of ICT devices, most HILs were at the beginners’ level. Some of the ATs they interacted with include television set, hearing aids, and mobile phones. This study concludes that the identified requirements helped determine the requirements that informed the development of an improved android sign language translator for supporting peer-to-peer interaction.

2. Sign language translator design

The sign language translator architecture design was broken down into data flow diagrams, microservices structure charts, entity-relationship diagrams, and use case diagrams. Therefore, this study concluded that the combination of designs was sufficient because they provided adequate implementation details on the sign language translator and its components. It also provided information on how the components work together towards improving the android sign language translator for supporting peer-to-peer interaction in an academic discussion among hearing and non-hearing-impaired learners.

3. Sign language translator implementation

The Sign Language translator designs were implemented using Android Studio, an implementation kit for native applications, and Adobe Illustrator to design the sign language images. The application was broken down into microservices implemented independently while being tested to meet the identified requirements during implementation. Then the microservices were then integrated to form one system and again tested for faults. The Android Studio emulator was used to perform the tests though it could not mimic the device's environment to support the Google Voice-Text feature. With that limitation, the application had to be tested on real devices. Therefore, it can be concluded that the implementation strategy for breaking the application into single-function microservices and the choice of implementation tools was the best combination for implementing the sign language translator.

4. Sign language translator evaluation

After implementation, the application was evaluated using the experimental method, which focuses on end-user involvement in particular tasks. The tasks considered include: creating an admin’s account, adding discussion subjects and HIL, and conversion of sign-text and verbal communication to sign language.  The results showed that the sign language interpreter addressed all implementation aspects with minor weaknesses. With those results, it can be concluded that the implemented sign language interpreter is a practical, absolute, and comparable tool for enhancing peer-to-peer interaction among HIL and non-hearing-impaired learners in an academic discussion. It is effective because it is user-centered and fits within the learning culture and values of HIL. Additionally, it is absolute because it addressed the main objective of the study, non-functional and functional requirements, and it conforms to the ISO standards. Moreover, it is comparable because it is similar to a solution addressing a similar problem.


Recommendations show the actions that need to be taken as a result of limitations experienced throughout the study, and they include:

1. Academic

The research also established minimal strategies for integrating HIL among non-haring-impaired learners in academic settings. Therefore, this study recommends adopting the implemented android sign language interpreter to support inclusive learning among HIL and non-hearing-impaired learners in academic discussions.

2. Policymaker

The study also established minimal adoption of AT in schools supporting HIL. For that reason, this study recommends that there should be a policy binding all the stakeholders in ensuring that these technologies are accessible to every learner who needs them. Additionally, they should advocate for HILs AT's implementation and procurement to support HIL in schools.

3. Government

The study established inadequate ICT infrastructure in the schools that participated. As a result, ICT devices like laptops and phones are mainly accessible to teachers only. For that reason, this study recommends that the Government boost ICT infrastructures that are in line with enhancing the learning process, like the introduction of computers, smartphones, and tablets accessible to HIL.


The researcher acknowledges contributions from supervisors, including Dr. Benedict Oyo, Dr. Raphael Aregu, and Mr. Jackson Abandu, for their effortlessly support from start to completion of this study. Other people who have been instrumental in this study include; Dr. Proscovia Olango, Dr. Geoffrey Tabu, Associate Professor Richard Echodu, Dr. Benard Abola our lecturers, and their colleagues in the computer science department who have had direct or indirect contributions to the success of the success this study. The researcher acknowledges Dr. Dennis Ofoyuru from the faculty of Education and Humanities, Dr. Mshilla Maghanga from the Business and Development Faculty and Victoria Wughanga Kirigha for financial support and encouragement during the study.

The researcher acknowledges St. Teresa and Laroo Adra Primary School in Gulu City for the study's opportunity. The schools' administrations played a crucial role in supporting and coordinating the whole exercise. The hearing-impaired learners sacrificed their time to participate in the study. Additionally, the study's introduction to the involved schools would not have been possible without approval from the Gulu University Research Ethics Committee (GUREC), the Faculty of Computer Science, and the Principal Education Officer Gulu City.

The researcher also acknowledges the THRiVE project at Gulu University to provide a graduate resource center, which was beneficial for the study.  Finally, the researcher gives special thanks to Gulu University: administration, support staff, and lectures for their direct and indirect support in completing this study. The University made sure that there was a conducive environment to carry out the study, thus making the whole process an enjoyable experience.



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Background of the Study

The world comprises more than 150 million children with disabilities under 18 years (World Health Organization, [WHO], 2015). In Uganda, disability prevalence stands at 13.6% for the population aged five years and above. Of that population, 10.1% are hearing impaired (Uganda Bureau of Statistics, [UBOS], 2016). In Gulu City, the population of people with Disabilities (PWD) is 12,565; for those above two years, the number of hearing-impaired is 3,009. In addition, the population of those attending primary school stands at  86.2% (UBOS, 2017). That is due to the Government White Paper publishing a report on the Educational Policy Review Commission in 1992 to provide equal access to quality education while boosting completion rate, literacy, and numeracy skills (JICA, 2012). The White Paper marked primary education as the minimum education to be acquired by every individual. That meant the HIL have an opportunity to attend school (Ikhfi & Nurul, 2018).

Ugandan government introduced Universal Primary Education (UPE) in 1997, and it involved the abolishment of school fees (Ikhfi & Nurul, 2018). In 2008, under the Education Act, it became compulsory for every child to attend primary school  (JICA, 2012). After that, schools in Uganda enrolled 205,000 students with disabilities (SWD). With that achievement, 28.8% were HIL by 2010 (JICA, 2012). In 2011 the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) introduced the Special needs and Inclusive Education policy, whose objectives include: ensuring that HILs have access to equal and quality education; parents and guardians have been sensitised on the importance of having HIL in school, providing licenses to the organisation supporting HIL, emphasize on the usage of sign language, review the curriculum in regards of HIL and provision of UPE  (Allida & Samson, 2018).

Ugandan National Curriculum Development Center (NCDC) rolled out a new academic curriculum in between 2007 – 2012 to develop essential literacy, life skills, and values among learners. The curriculum emphasizes student-centered learning, which involves the learner being an active participant in the learning process (National Planning Authority [NPA], 2018). However, due to the communication barrier, the HIL cannot participate in peer-to-peer interaction in an academic discussion among the non-hearing-impaired learners since they rely on sign language (Wezzie et al., 2020; Miles, Wapling, & Beart, 2011). That affects HIL's social development, participation in academic discussion activities ( NESSE, 2012; Alhassan, 2015), ability to care for others, and developing problem-solving skills (NPA, 2018). In the end, their level of thinking and communication is not developed to the level of non-hearing-impaired learners (Chandra, 2015).

Considering the communication barrier experienced by HIL, there was a need to ensure that they have equal access to quality education (Louise & Eleni, 2018). Additionally, there was a need to enhance their capability to participate in academic discussion among non-hearing-impaired learners (Suleymanov, 2014). Moreover, they need emotional support and acquire knowledge and social competencies from non-hearing-impaired learners (Alhassan, 2015). The argument was based on constructivism theory which states that learners can develop knowledge independently or in groups (Zhou & Brown, 2017).  The role of group participation is to pose challenges and support to encourage the learners (Dagar & Yadav, 2016). As a result, this study intended to develop an android sign language translator that enhances communication in academic discussion among HIL and non-hearing-impaired learners. That is in consideration that there are advanced applications like; text comprehension, sound and video streaming, sign language, hand movement reading, and facial expression apps (Adebisi, Liman & Longpoe, 2015)





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