Finglas family help bring storytime to deaf children with new campaign

by Rachel Darcy

A family from Finglas have become the stars of an ad campaign for an innovative new app, that aims to help bring the tradition of story time to deaf children.

Bobby and Sophia Walsh-Mooney, alongside their mum Cindy, appear in a new short film directed by Oscar winning director Chris Overton, bringing the new StorySign app to life.

The brother and sister have struggled with hearing loss since they were babies, with their mum Cindy explaining that deaf children have to learn to read differently.

“Not many people know or realise that a child that’s deaf or hard of hearing, their reading is affected.

“Children that are hearing, they hear through phonetics, they break a word down into two or three syllables or whatever the word is, whereas deaf children can’t learn to read like that,” Cindy explained.

StorySign is an app that translates popular children’s books into sign language in real-time to allow for a seamless reading experience, meaning deaf children can enjoy a traditional story time with ease.

The app has been downloaded over 40,000 times since its launch in December 2018.

It creates an authentic reading experience, where an on-screen avatar will sign out the words that appear in a story, making it easier for children to understand.

Bobby and Sophia with their parents.

The StorySign app is pioneered by technology firm Huawei, who reaffirmed their commitment to supporting the deaf community at an event in Dublin Zoo last week, where four new books were added to the StorySign library.

Walter Ji, president of Huawei’s Western Europe Consumer Business Group, said: “Some 34% percent of the people who have downloaded the free StorySign app have become daily active users, which reinforces our commitment to helping more Deaf children learn to read and makes us proud to continue developing and expanding StorySign.”

John Sherwin, CEO Irish Deaf Society commented further, “Education tools that enhance the use of Irish Sign Language at home are vital when tackling early development of language, cognition and literacy.

“The expansion of the StorySign library, a new language and wider availability mark an important step towards helping Deaf children enjoy story time.”

The app is available for download on the App Store and Google Play store.

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