iFLYTEK has been enabling the hearing-impaired to lead happy and productive lives beyond their expectation through artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
In cooperation with the China Association of Persons with Hearing Disabilities, iFLYTEK launched the charity program “Hear the Voice of AI” on May 19, 2019 to assist over 28 million deaf people in China. The program provides a free life-long transcription service on its iFLYREC App for the deaf community so that they can better communicate with others in both work and life.
Presently, iFLYTEK has offered 27.89 million minutes of free transcription services for the deaf. This contribution has played a significant role in enabling those afflicted to follow their personal and professional pursuits by bridging the verbal divide through artificial intelligence.
“Dancing has made me understand myself; communication has made me understand the world.”
Wei Jingyang, a deaf ballet dancer from Hengshui City, Hebei Province, has been hailed by her community as the “Little Ballet Princess” thanks in part to the iFLYTEK free transcription service.
When she was only one year old, Wei lost her hearing after suffering through a severe fever. Growing up deaf was difficult for her, as she understood the limitations a hearing disability could have on her dream of becoming a dancer. However, after attending the show “Thousand-handed Goddess” that was composed entirely by hearing-impaired dancers, the then 10-year-old girl realized that she too could dance on stage.
While Wei started to learn how to dance afterwards, she found that she couldn’t communicate well with others as she didn’t know sign language. Even dancing on her own proved difficult, as she could not hear the rhythm of the music to sync her dancing. Nevertheless, with the encouragement and help from iFLYTEK and those around her, she soon mastered sign language and became a lead dancer in Ballet, Latin, folk and classical dances on international performance tours.
“I used to bring a pen and a notebook for communicating with others. It was very inconvenient, so I didn’t often go out,” Wei said. Even after realizing her dream to dance on stage, she was still afraid of interacting with other people.
“Since getting the iFLYREC App, I have made good use of the App on my phone for better communication. Dancing has helped me understand myself and communication has helped me understand the world,” Wei said.
For Wei, AI is just like her ears, enabling her to understand her surroundings and to remove the barriers that limit her interactions with others. “In the past, iFLYTEK meant nothing much to me. But ever since they entered my life, their services have become a constant source of warmth for me,” Wei said.
“The iFLYREC App is my ears, making me feel that I’m no different from others.”
Liu Yunbo, a Chinese snowboarder who suffers from neurotic deafness, has managed to go on to become a silver medalist for snowboard cross and slalom at the Chinese championship, while also ranking fourth in parallel turn and fifth in parallel Giant Slalom at the China’s National Games for Persons with Disabilities.
“When I’m snowboarding, I feel free of the time, the tiredness and the worries,” he said.
Before becoming a snowboarder, Liu had to have a craniotomy that left him without hearing and in need of speech rehabilitation training.
When talking about the reason for choosing snowboarding as his career, Liu said: “I like snowboarding. It brings me the feeling of freedom. When I’m practicing, I’m not afraid of the difficulties, but it feels awkward to bother others because of my poor hearing.”
While Liu wears audiphones when he snowboards, they don’t always work well and he has had to rely on lip-reading at times. “When fellow snowboarders communicate with me, they have to take off their masks to face me.”
After learning of the iFLYREC App, Liu felt he had found his “ears”. “It is my ears for understanding the world. It makes me feel that I’m no different from others,” he said.
“The iFLYREC App has become my good friend. It transcribes speeches into texts for me.”
After passing the National Bar Exam and becoming a lawyer in 2020, Tan Ting became the first deaf lawyer in China. She lost her hearing when she was eight due to tympanitis, and still lives with the memories of the sounds she heard.
After graduating from university, Tan concentrated on the competitive National Bar Exam. With a success rate of only 10 percent, it is not an easy test for any student, yet the general concepts on the test can be even more difficult for the hearing-impaired.
“The exam is indeed very challenging, especially for people like me. I could only learn on my own and the iFLYREC App became my good friend as I was taking online courses. It transcribed the speeches into texts for me,” Tan said. Recalling the experience, she said she is sincerely grateful to iFLYTEK for such a useful tool.
Even after the exam, Tan has been using the iFLYREC App in her practice at her law firm. In the past, to help communicate between her deaf clients and her abled colleagues, she often had to write dozens of pages about frauds or divorces during their conultations. Now, she has managed to convey information between the two sides through the iFLYREC App after learning to better “speak” with the tool and understand her colleagues with the speech to text transcription function.
“The iFLYREC App is like my friend, understanding me, interacting with me and making me improve constantly.”
Tian Ye, who started and leads his own company, lost his hearing when he was only one year old due to drug toxicity. He didn’t understand sign language before entering a special education school and could not communicate with his classmates effectively.
Looking back on his childhood when he couldn’t hear or express himself, he said: “It was not as gloomy as many might think. I was too young to think about the hardships lying ahead.”
Tian was fortunate enough to enter the best senior school for the hearing-impaired in his neighboring city and then went on to enter the famed Engineering School of the Deaf at the Tianjin University of Technology, ranking fourth in academic performance.
After graduation, he decided he wanted to give back to his deaf community. “We were not born mute. It’s just that we can’t hear, so we can’t utter correctly or conduct real-time communication with others. There was no platform assisting our communication, so I decided to develop one myself.”
Tian aims to establish an online platform that allows the hearing-impaired and the abled to share their knowledge and provides genuine interactions regardless of hearing barriers.
Guided by the goal that the deaf can communicate with the world on an equal footing, Tian became the CEO of a startup company which has established China’s first social platform for the hearing-impaired.
“I used to communicate with abled people through writing on paper, making both sides a little tired but there was no better option. Then, thanks to the iFLYREC App, I can go out with only my phone and laptop. The app is very user friendly,” Tian said. iFLYTEK has given the help he needs to communicate with others in business, he added.
“I feel the iFLYREC App is just like my friend, understanding me, interacting with me and making me improve constantly. There are ever-closer ties between me and the iFLYREC App, as I still use it often.”
The iFLYREC App developed by iFLYTEK aims to make heard the thinking and feelings of the hearing-impaired. With the tool, more and more deaf people are able to “hear” the world and enjoy their own unique lives to the fullest.