Design Analytics of Complex Communication Systems Involving Two Different Sensory Disabilities

Design Analytics of Complex Communication Systems Involving Two Different Sensory Disabilities

Gahangir Hossain (Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Kingsville, TX, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/IJHISI.2017040104
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The design of a robust communication among two different sensory disabilities (Deaf vs. Blind) remains an emerging field of research in disability healthcare communication system design. As an important part of modern technology, android and iPhone applications are frequently used in designing such communication systems. However, there is no 'one-size-fits-all' in case of different sensory disability health communication design. Hence, an in-depth understanding of their requirement, media preferences, similarity and difference and up-to-date technology usability are plausible towards universal and personalized communication system design. This research addresses such complex issues and performs a study involving two different types of disabilities (deaf and blind) communication. As a part of healthcare analytics, critical incidences are recorded and corresponding complexities are measured in order to evaluate communication protocol with social signal processing. Communication flow diagram, complexity analysis and critical incidence are quantified to improve communication protocols. Moreover, the uniqueness of disability can be personalized through this process which has valuable implications in rehabilitation and multi-purpose healthcare communication device development.
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According to a world report on disability (World Report, 2011; World Program of Action, 2007) over one billion people around the world have some type of disability. Twenty five percent of the population in a given country is adversely affected by the presence of some form of disability. Out of hundreds of millions of children who are not in school, thirty to forty million have sensory disabilities. Over fifty-four million people in the US have some form of a disability. Out of seventy million families, twenty million have at least one family member who has a disability. Canada, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Egypt reported to have four million, seventeen million, nine million and seven million people with sensory disabilities, respectively (People with Disabilities in India, 2007; Foulgers, 2004).

Since sensory disabilities are highly prevalent worldwide, it is necessary to design a robust and effective communication solution. Recent developments of communication technology within integrated technology devices (smart phone, tablet, pad etc.) may help to bridge the gap between people with and without sensory disabilities. People with disabilities are becoming more technologically aware and are adopting emerging applications with technology devices. With premium training and assistance, they can adopt modern technology for social networking as well as managing their daily lives. While assistive technology solutions are helpful, in many cases, they are not interoperable to bridge communication gaps between people with mutually exclusive types of sensory disabilities (for example, deaf vs. blind or deaf-blind). One viable solution to overcome this obstacle is to have technological devices with universal design. However, sensory disabilities are more personalized and there is no “one-size-fits-all”, which requires an in-depth study of their opinions in action (Aslaksen et al., 1995; Russell et al., 1993)

Figure 1.

Communication between different sensory disabilities (Deaf, Blind, Deaf-Blind communication)


Let us consider the conversation among four assistive technology expert users (Figure 1): John, Bob, Doris, and Debra. John is an experiment designer for people with cross-disability. Bob is a blind instructor with ten years of experiences in teaching people who are blind or visually impaired. Doris, who is hearing impaired (deaf), works with Bob in the same school, teaching students who have hearing problems. Debra, who is both deaf and blind, also works with Bob and Doris. Their actual names are changed to preserve the confidentiality agreement. Bob can communicate through speech, audio feedback, and tactile communication methods (Braille), but prefers voiceover feedback. Doris favors sign language to other modes of communication. Debora loves the Braille communication tools. She also knows signing, animal behavior, auditory feedback, etc. The main theme of their conversation was to ascertain an optimal mode of communication between a deaf person and someone who is blind with the cutting-edge technology of smart phone applications. Naturally, their conversations are different from traditional inter personal social coordination, the lakes some integral parts of social collaboration. However, there is no formal framework to evaluate the strength of collaboration and the integral components that makes the successful collaboration in such complex situation. Our research purpose was to identify analytics that are useful assessing the effectiveness in such complex communication design with modern technology application (e.g., mobile apps). Hence, the study was performed to gain a deeper understanding of the complex collaborative process among the people with three different sensory disabilities with assessment of their cognitive abilities and associated gaps. More details of the ability-demand gap and its mathematical modeling can be found from the authors' earlier works (Hossain et al., 2014).

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