Tech

Fujitsu offers free access to ‘Ontenna’ for hearing-impaired students

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japantoday– Fujitsu says it will offer free educational programming modules for its “Ontenna” device for students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Ontenna is a user interface that converts and transmits the volume of different noises to vibration and light in real time. Users can apply it to their hair, earlobes, collars, or armpits to perceive the characteristics of sound, including as rhythm, patterns, and volume. Ontenna has been provided since August 2019 for the purpose of allowing deaf people the ability to experience sound through demonstrations in a variety of environments, including in the classroom, sporting events, concerts, and tap dancing, as well as through collaborative research with deaf people.

Since June 2019, Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has been providing free trial versions of the Ontenna device to slightly more than 70% of schools for those with limited hearing nationwide. This initiative represents part of MEXT’s efforts to leverage technology to contribute to the improvement of students’ educational environments and realize its goal of “fair, individualized learning that leaves no one behind.”

The trial version of Ontenna is now widely used in speech classes and for rhythm and music exercises in schools for the deaf and hard of hearing. This latest move promises to further advance efforts to achieve this goal, and the Ontenna educational programming modules will be made available free of charge, allowing children to use the program to customize the vibration and light-based feedback of their Ontenna to react to sounds they want to experience.

Fujitsu said this will provide children with opportunities to learn programming and contribute to the development of a new generation of technologically literate young people who will play a leading role in shaping our digital future society.