Deaf-Centered Topics

Come on, invent these for the deaf

I know you woke up this morning and thought, “What can I invent today that’s going to make the lives of deaf people simply amazing?”

Well, have I got some ideas for you! (and psssst … I want 10% of the profits. Thanks.)


We deaf folks really just want to understand what is being said around us. Crazy, huh? And since sign language is incredibly accessible for us, but interpreters are not always available, we need holographic ones. Yes. That’s right. Welcome to the future that you’ll invent later today. Imagine someone who uses American Sign Language as her primary mode of communication being able to press a button on a smart phone or a smart watch or a smart toothpick, and a holographic interpreter popped into existence? That, my friends, is just a golden ray of sunshine and a pocketful of rainbows.

“Ready for interpretation?” asks the interpreter, who is entirely composed of light.

“Yes,” signs the deaf man, pointing to the hearing person he’d like to communicate with. “This dude,” signs the deaf man. Commence interpretation.

It would be absolutely a must to customize your own personal interpreter’s specialized vocabulary to match your own. Mine will look like a robot from a 1960s sci-fi show, because retro is cool.

Aw. I’m sorry, my extremely valued interpreter friends who I think are awesome sauce: It’s not that I’d want to replace you guys. You’re amazing. You make a tremendous difference. I love you, but I can’t fit you in my smart phone yet so I have to be willing to accept such technological advances.

But don’t worry because it’ll be at least 50 years before the inventors reading this are able to get the job done, so by then you’ll be old with me and we can play chess at the Seniors’ Center. 5pm on Tuesdays.


“What!?” you say. “Stop the presses! Hold your horses! That’s simply magnificent.”

I know, I know. Brilliant, right? But get this: this could be invented this year, if Google simply wanted to do it. Yeah, we know the Google Glasses haven’t yet lived up to the hype, but you can be they’re still working on fine-tuning that product. We know that CC technology already exists, even though it’s imperfect and often unreliable, but imagine if Google was motivated to perfect that technology and load it up into the next version of Google Glass. I’d love that. Pop on the Google Glass and have it caption everything that is said to me. The sounds of approaching cars, random dogs, babbling babies, and croaking frogs. Why not? That would be a rich experience. World-changing, honestly. We might want to install a filter to block sounds like chalk screeches and babies farting. Just a thought.

I did e-mail this idea to Google, but with less mention of farting, but sadly they never responded.


[image description: tiny wooden robot standing on some shiny surface in the middle of a grassy field]
Image from
No more feeling conflicted between having to choose the possibility of oversleeping because you don’t have an alarm clock or having one of those deaf alarm clocks that are FULLY CAPABLE OF BRINGING DEAD PEOPLE BACK TO LIFE BECAUSE THEIR ABRUPT SHAKING JUST JOLTS YOU AWAKE AND YOUR HEART IS POUNDING AND YOU THINK MY GOD WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS?

No, you have a gentle little robot alarm clock that comes up to you and carefully places its robotic hand, covered with a fluffy mitten, on your shoulder and applies the slightest pressure and a firm but soft shake to awake you. It’s practically going to be like being rocked to sleep like a baby, only the reverse and it’s a robot. A robot! Then you wake up and you see that your robot has awoken you and your robot says, in sign language of course: “Master dear, it’s time to rise and greet the day.”

Tell me that doesn’t sound nice. My alarm clock is currently shut away in a drawer since it was prone to going off inexplicably in the middle of the night, which neither my wife nor I liked.

Alright, inventors. Get cracking on these. Don’t forget my 10%.

J. Parrish Lewis was born and raised in Maryland. In his youth there, he and his brother had many adventures in the dogwood forests near his home. His nostalgia for these adventures has strongly influenced his characters, their relationships, and their perspective on the world they inhabit. He moved to California’s coast to earn his degree in communications and now lives with his family in the San Joaquin Valley. Lewis is profoundly deaf and uses American Sign Language to communicate. He enjoys hazelnut coffee, captioned movies, and walking his dog.


  • jessecat1899

    Awesome blog, I do have a Fitbit that has an alarm built in and I have it set for waking me up Monday through Friday. I am sleeping much better without the stress of worrying about oversleeping. That’s an option for ya.

  • Ellen

    Since the Apple Watch has a microphone and an ability to “tap” you, do you think having your watch tap you if your name was called would be useful? Or have your watch tell you about alarms, or sirens? I would love to create something useful, but don’t know if it would be well-received. My deaf son is too young for a watch, so he can’t tell me 😉

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