Sign of the times: Undergrad to develop app for the Deaf

Alexa Adamssits with her iPad that has the Google Glasses loaded as she holds up the sign language symbol of "idea"

Alexa Adams, a UC Davis biotechnology major with an emphasis on bioinformatics, signs the word “idea.” Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis photo

Nurturing ideas that improve quality of life are central to our vision at UC Davis. Breaking down barriers for the deaf is what Alexa Adams, a second-year biotechnology student from Modesto, is driven to do.

She was first exposed to the Deaf community by her aunt, who works as an interpreter for hearing impaired students in Modesto City Schools. While interacting with these students, Alexa realized the communication gap that exists between the hearing and deaf worlds.

Alexa Adams poses in the lab.

Alexa has been working at the UC Davis Genome Center as a lab intern since her freshman year. Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis photo

She saw her opportunity to make a difference when Google announced “Project Glass” —a futuristic computer in a device that resembles a pair of eyeglasses. That’s because Glass has the unique ability to display auditory commands on a visual interface.

Alexa submitted her idea to develop an application for Glass that helps the deaf respond to the same prompts that the hearing do — such as a crosswalk chirp. She believes that this app has the possibility of helping the deaf better interact with those who don’t know sign language.

Alexa was chosen as one of 8,000 Google Glass Explorers. Her challenge now is to raise the $2,500 necessary for the prototype and supplies. And I’m excited to share that she has almost reached her goal!

The innovative ideas and visions of students like Alexa inspire me. And, when we give them the tools and knowledge to succeed, amazing things can happen.

One response to “Sign of the times: Undergrad to develop app for the Deaf

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *