Hearing management

Updated 04 July 2019

Rural man's innovation translates sign language into audio

Born to deaf parents, a Limpopo man has created a communication tool to improve the lives of those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Having struggled throughout his childhood to communicate with his deaf parents, Lucky Netshidzati (26) created a hand glove which translates South African sign language into voice, text, and voice-to-sign language animation to improve communication between him and his parents. 

Netshidzati’s parents were born deaf so he wasn’t able to communicate with them. It prompted him to do something to improve the situation.

“Growing up was difficult because both my parents are deaf and I was unable to communicate with them properly because they used sign language,” he said.

“Imagine not being able to speak to your own parents because they can’t hear you or respond to what you are saying because they only use sign language and you have never been taught sign language at school?”


Born and bred in rural Tsianda, outside Thohoyandou, Netshidzati said that he was encouraged to come up with an innovation to help deaf people communicate with everyone easily, not only for his family but for others in a similar situation to his. 

“I don’t want other children to go through what I did as a child.”

Netshidzati said that when the glove sensor is connected to a mobile application on a phone, it can also be used to make phone calls. 

“I believe it will go a long way in assisting hearing-impaired people to communicate with people who can hear, without any barrier.” He said the glove can be powered by charging it electronically, or by using a battery. 

Though it is not yet out in the market, Netshidzati believes that it will go a long way in empowering people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

– Health-e News

Image credit: Health-e News


Ask the Expert

Hearing Expert

Minette Lister graduated with a Bachelor of Communication Pathology (Audiology) from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville in 2015. Thereafter, she completed her compulsory year of community service at Phoenix Assessment and Therapy Centre in Durban. In 2017, Minette started working for Thompson and Hoffman Audiology Inc. She is passionate about working with children and adults to diagnose and manage hearing loss using state of the art technology. Minette offers hearing screening programmes for newborn and high-risk babies, as well as school-aged children, in order to decrease the incidence of late or unidentified hearing loss.

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