RAS SIGHT project “Speak Up” receives two awards!

RAS SIGHT projects are not only providing humanitarian assistance, but are also highly regarded and recognized by the community!

The project “Enhancing the Speak Up! Suite of Voice Powered Games,” was completed by Amal Nanavati, M. Bernardine Dias, & Aaron Steinfeld, Carnegie Mellon University (PA), USA. It was created to support and train the deaf community in developing areas of the world. The “Speak Up! suite of voice-powered games” includes activities where, for example: student voice propels a vehicle forward, students vary their volume to move a bird up and down, and student voice gradually reveals a flashcard. The games have been in use at a school for the deaf in India for over 2 years. In this project, the team conducted fieldwork to understand the strengths and shortcomings of these games and further improve upon them.

Speak Up photo

Project Lead, Amal Nanavati recently presented “Speak Up” at the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (paper here), as well as Carnegie Mellon's undergraduate research symposium. The project was fortunate to receive two awards at the research symposium:

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute's award for "Best Multi-Year Project," which awards projects that have "positive impacts on individuals' quality of life and health."

The Dietrich Humanities Prize, which awards projects that "best exemplify the humanities as they are understood at Carnegie Mellon."

Biographical Information

Amal Nanavati recently received a B.S. from Carnegie Mellon University with a double major in Computer Science and Global Studies. In addition to robotics research, he spent his time outside of class teaching Computer Science at under-resourced Pittsburgh K-12 schools through Teknowledge, a student organization which he co-founded and led. He will be spending the next year as a Fulbright Fellow in Japan, doing research in robot learning from observation under the guidance of Dr. Takayuki Kanda at Kyoto University. After that, he will begin a PhD in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Community Partner Information

The Mathru Educational Trust for the Blind is a nonprofit, founded in 2001 by Ms. Gubbi R. Muktha. Ms. Muktha had been in an unfortunate road accident in 1986, which resulted in losing mobility for almost three years, during which she regularly visited the Vocational Rehabilitation Centre of the Disabled in Bangalore. At the rehabilitation centre Ms. Muktha came into contact with many blind people, who were struggling with mobility and were extremely dependent on family and friends. She was moved. In her own words, “Just because a child is blind does not mean he or she should become a burden to their family and society. Just because a child is blind does not mean they are worthless. They have so many other strengths and talents which can be harnessed for their benefit and for the benefit of their family and society. I realized that God had a bigger plan for me.” In 2001, she founded the Mathru Educational Trust for the Blind with the original goal of creating a residential school for blind children in and around Bangalore. The Mathru Educational Trust has since expanded, and it now runs two residential schools for disabled children and countless other charitable projects. The site of this project was the Mathru Centre for the Deaf and Differently-Abled, which was established in 2012 to serve students with hearing impairments and multiple disabilities. Learn more about all the Mathru Educational Trust’s projects at http://www.mathrublindschool.org/


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