The combination of Apple’s iSight hardware and iChat AV software is proving to be a boon to some deaf people, according to the
San Francisco Chronicle. The article tells how Melvin Patterson, deaf since he was a child, takes advantage of the technology.
“In the past, conducting a conversation using traditional nonvisual telecommunications tools like telephones and pagers was frustrating,” the Chronicle reports. “Text messages or sign language conversations on jittery Web video screens were a pale substitute for a face-to-face exchange. But that changed dramatically when Patterson tried iChat AV, new videoconferencing software, and iSight, a new Web camera, which Apple Computer Inc. introduced during the summer.”
Patterson told the newspaper that, unlike any other technology he had ever seen, the iChat AV software produced video that was clear enough to see another person’s fingers and hand movements, a crucial element in communicating via American Sign Language. Also, in the past, not only poor video quality, but the high expense assorted with video or Web conferencing, was a problem.
However, new advances in technology such as iChat have “started to open up unexplored avenues of video-based communication,” the Chronicle says. Patterson believes iChat AV will become a big hit in the deaf community because it provides a real-time image that can keep up with the speed of sign language and is easy to set up.
“Many of us deaf Mac users bought iSight so that we can communicate with each other,” Patterson told the Chronicle. “The technology popular for deaf people has been two-way pagers, but obviously, using iChat and being able to talk in our own language is far better than sending text back and forth.”