Innovative learning tool for Jordan’s deaf children
Visual cards and augmented reality could reach more than 10,600 children
Martha is an educational tool using visual cards to teach Arabic and sign language literacy in the home, with a companion application that uses augmented reality videos for more engaging learning. Illiteracy in formal sign language and in Arabic is a major barrier to deaf children’s learning - resulting in an 80 per cent illiteracy rate in deaf children, who number around 10,600 in Jordan. Martha is the only home learning solution for deaf children aged 2-5.
In Jordan, illiteracy affects 80 per cent of deaf children, many of whom don’t attend school. This impacts massively their lives, including their ability to access medical services and eventually, work.
Martha was developed as a home-based interactive educational tool using visual cards to teach children to read and write in formal sign language and Arabic. The innovators have also developed a companion application using virtual reality videos for more engaged learning. The name ‘Martha’ was inspired by Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the United States, where four per cent of the population are deaf. Out of respect for this minority, all inhabitants speak sign language.
In Jordan, there are only 10 government schools for the deaf, which are unevenly distributed, resulting in many children losing out.
“We are the only home learning solution for deaf children in this age group. The other options that families have include going to deaf learning centres - which are expensive - or finding online resources, which are harder to navigate and not designed for an Arabic-language audience,” the developers say.
The team hope to reach 10,600 children in Jordan with a plan to scale up to project to include more advanced age groups.
“We started the design of our solution in January of 2019 with intense user testing, and we have a prototype of the first two series in the learning sequence. We have already created demand within our user market and over the next six months, plan to finalise the technical content of the product and conduct further testing before going to market,” they say.
Each learning level of the product will be sold for US$14, and for every kit purchased, one will be donated to a family who cannot afford it. The kits allow for self-directed learning, are easy to use and affordable.
“Deaf children should not be deprived of contributing to society because they were born with a challenge,” says Abu Shakhdan, one of the team members”. “We are seeking investment to expand the content, and are seeking partnerships to subsidise our product price, in addition to expert mentors.”
More Detail About The Innovation
Problem: High illiteracy rates among deaf children in Jordan unfairly impacts them throughout their lives.
Solution: A home-based educational tool using visual cards to teach literacy in formal sign language and Arabic. The innovators have also developed a companion application using augmented reality videos for more engaged learning.
Current status: The team has a designer and programmer, an expert in production, business and finance, and a lawyer, for legal issues. The project is supported by the Mahali Innovation Lab Programme.
Business model: Each learning level will be sold for for 10 JD ($US14,00), and for every purchased learning kit we will donate one to a family that cannot afford it. Proposition: Reaching 10,600 children in the initial target group of 2-5 year old deaf children.
Prospects: The scaling-up plan includes covering more advanced age groups.
The Founders: Razan Al-Sharman Ehab Kahwati Rasha Abu Shakhdam Mohammad Aghyad Mo'taz Al-Samara
Endorsements: The team have received positive feedback from users in the trials and from expert advisers.