Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

Sonder

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What is the name of your solution?

Sonder

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Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

AI-powered educational ASL at your fingertips providing an nclusive and equitable educational opportunities for deaf students

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Film your elevator pitch.

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What specific problem are you solving?

Motivated by Providing Accessible Education for Everyone

15% of the world's population (1B people) experience a disability such as vision, mobility, or auditory. Sensory impairments affects how they live, communicate, and learn. 5 of 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals explicit mention disabilities - these are FOUR quality education, EIGHT good jobs and economic growth, TEN reduced inequalities, ELEVEN sustainable cities and communities, and SEVENTEEN partnerships for the goals. I was inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to create an app that would help make education accessible and help re-engage and meet the holistic needs of underserved students between the ages of 5 and 18 so that they may thrive and succeed:


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UN Sustainable Development Goals

  • QUALITY EDUCATION SUB-GOALS (BY 2030)
  • Ensure all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education
  • Eliminate gender disparities in education and Ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable
  • Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability, gender-sensitive. Provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive, effective learning environments for all.

Pain Points for Deaf and Hear of Hearing Students

  • Limited ASL learning opportunities: few young people between the ages of 5 and 18 are afforded the space, time, or resources to build foundational and durable skills. Nor do they have the ability to explore their academic, extracurricular, and creative passions, or meaningfully engage with their peers and communities making deaf students left out of getting a quality education
  • Inclusive and equitable educational opportunities for all where no student is left behind. There are limited options for online learning for the deaf especially in developing countries.
  • Poor Translator options for deaf students: Students may need interpreters as they have not learned how to read properly but they are expensive, and not readily available 24/7. Captions for videos, instant transcription to follow a live teaching would be helpful as students are highly visual learners with student and teacher experiences vary widely in this pandemic schooling era, but across all demographics, the psycho-social wellbeing of young people has been severely impacted and educators are overwhelmed and overtaxed
  • Prior to the pandemic, one in six children globally were not in a formal school setting, with overrepresentation from girls and young people experiencing poverty, living in rural areas, conflict zones, or with disabilities. COVID-19 online remote learning: Sign language relies heavily on facial expressions and body lanaguage. The pandemic has exacerbated existing inequities, as two-thirds of the young learning population—1.3 billion people—do not have reliable access to the internet in their homes, hindering their participation in distance learning. Many schools lack the necessary tools for a new setup of blended learning online from lack of internet connection, in-person guidance, and trouble learning remotely.
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What is your solution?

Sonder: every student has a story

The word "Sonder" is defined as "The profound feeling of realizing that everyone, including strangers passed in the street, has a life as complex as one's own, which they are constantly living despite one's personal lack of awareness of it." This is important because the "Lived Experience" for a deaf student is extremely different. Developing with empathy - thinking of people other than yourself is important. Sonder provides inclusive and equitable educational opportunities for deaf students. It is an online learning management system for hearing-impaired children and specialized teachers to teach the children. Sonder connects Deaf and Hearing-Impaired Students and Special Education Teachers making it easier to communicate and help re-engage and meet the holistic needs of underserved learners between the ages of 5 and 18 so that they may thrive and succeed.


Portable translator for deaf or hard-of-hearing students

Connect with Sonder to transcribe or live caption voice to text for classrooms, business meetings, doctor’s appointments, shopping, events, and more.  An online learning management system for hearing-impaired children and specialized teachers to teach the children. Inclusive and equitable educational opportunities for ALL

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Sonder: Reading ASL with a Computer Vision Object Detection Model. An online learning management system for hearing-impaired children and specialized teachers to teach the children. Inclusive and equitable educational opportunities for ALL. Features include tech that transcribes or adds subtitles to virtual collaboration tools like Zoom or phone calls and Connect with emergency services in a nonverbal way for safety purposes. Portable translator for deaf or hard-of-hearing students and enable and improve personalized learning and individualized instruction for learners who have experienced disruptions in schooling and missed foundational milestones.

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Connect with Sonder to transcribe or live caption voice to text for classrooms, business meetings, doctor’s appointments, shopping, events, and more. Video Interpretor: Reading American Sign Langauge with Computer Vision Google Tensorflow Object Detection Model CNNs trained on object recognition for visual recognition tasks using technology solution to lift administrative burdens on educators and support professional development as they implement new approaches and navigate continued disruptions.

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Connect with emergency services in a nonverbal way for safety purposes. Sound Recognition for Emergency —› Access smart algorithm for security and peace of mind. Alerts deaf and hard-of-hearing users to potential dangers around them bti creating a notification whenever the phone detects dangerous/important noises to support timely and manageable assessments to help under-resourced communities better plan, monitor, and evaluate learning. 

  1. Record Sounds Record environmental sounds to alert you in case of events. Sound monitors for Sirens, dog barks, smoke alarms, car horns, doorbells. running water. appliance beeps
  2. Set Safety Contacts Alerts the user with flashing lights or vibrations if special sounds are detected -creating a way to connect with emergency services in a nonverbal way. 3.Detectlon Mode Uses smartphone's microphone to constantly listen to the environment during "Detection Mode". Detects a broad range of sounds
  3. Connect to watch Users can have notifications go to their Apple Watch as well. in case they don't always want to be checking their phone to check if the oven has gotten up to temperature.
  4. Emergency Mode Alerts user by vibrating smartphone and smartwatch. flashing mobile's camera light. and showing icon image of event on screen with a text note of the name.
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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

By 2050 over 700 million people (1 in 10!) will have disabling hearing loss. Sonder targets hearing-impaired childern aged 6-12 schools, government institutions, and caretakers (parents and special ed teachers).

Total Available Market (TAM):

Total people worldwide 430 million with hearing loss (5% of the world's population)

Serviceable Available Market (SAM):

Childern worldwide with hearing loss (34 million children)

Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM):

Childern with hearing loss in USA 308,648 deaf or hard of hearing children between the ages of 5 and 17. Of these, approximately 75,000 are on IEPs, and roughly 20.8% are in specialized schools and programs for deaf and hard of hearing students enrolled in the educational system.

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Deaf Perspective In Inclusive Design

  • Short Sentences : Keep sentences under 20 words: Research shows that when your average sentence length is 14 words, people understand over 90% of it. But at 43 words, people understand under 10>#/li###
  • Using Emojis Emojis support words and don't replace them as not everyone will understand emojis. They're best used when to add little more flavour.
  • Less "Visual Stress" : People with dyslexia could get "visual stress" with the way the words appear. Dyslexia can affect reading speeds and comprehension.
  • Readable Large Text : Large text size maintaining minimum contrast ratio of 4:5:1 for text. Using labels to identify forms with high-contrast text located above a form or button
  • Plain English : Increases comprehension when audience can understand the first time they read or hear it. Avoid expressions, jargon, and idioms. Be concise with familiar words in the active voice.
  • Colours and Graphical Icons : Using colour to convey information and using labels, hatches, patterns, or varying levels of contrast. [Colour blind friendly mode]
  • User Interface Components : Info clear and easy to understand with simple organization that easily guides someone through a design. * * Left-align text when possible, and weights to classify hierarchy.
  • Non-Sound Alerts : popup, a badge, text that stands out, or haptics, which creates an experience of touch with vibrations or motions. Notify when there is an update, change in status, or a new message
  • Phone Number as only Contact option: If a student needs to contact the school, the website should not have a phone number as the only contact option. Options include using a fax number or a mailing address as contact options.
  • Know Your Audience : Van drivers and porters where english isn't always their first language. Literacy levels won't always be at the highest level. There can be diffrent cultural and social norms.
  • Alternative Text Image Descriptions: Around 1 or two sentences, or <140 characters description that provides a more detailed account of the image for more context
  • Captions and Transcriptions: Captions, subtitles, or alternate audio can be customizable, allowing users to adjust them for font family, colour, size, background opacity, window colour, and character edge style.
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How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Team did not realize how big of a problem education was for deaf students -  and how many people it affected - for example it is estimated that by 2050 over 700 million people – or one in every ten people – will have disabling hearing loss. 


The go-to-market strategy for this market segmentation would be to target hearing-impaired childern aged 6-12 schools, government institutions, and caretakers (parents and special ed teachers). When I think of deaf and hard of hearing, I think of grandma and grandpa but childern with hearing loss in USA 308,648 deaf or hard of hearing children between the ages of 5 and 17. Of these, approximately 75,000 are on IEPs, and roughly 20.8% are in specialized schools and programs for deaf and hard of hearing students enrolled in the educational system.

Team experience with Deaf and Hearing-Impaired Students v.s. Special Education Teachers includes solving for the following painpoints:

  • What are the daily struggles you find most annoying?
  • Is it more convenient to have the dialogues signed or captioned?
  • Are there any mobile applications you find most difficult to use?
  • Do you have a reward system for these students?
  • What is the greatest challenge you have faced while teaching them?
  • What difficulties do students face while learning remotely (esp during COVID-19)?
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This is an important market because childern are the future and deaf childern and their education matter - we can't leave anyone out.

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Enable personalized learning and individualized instruction for learners who are most at risk for disengagement and school drop-out

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Where our solution team is headquartered or located:

Toronto, ON, Canada
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Our solution's stage of development:

Prototype
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Why are you applying to Solve?

MIT Solve seeks technology-based solutions and Sonder leverages machine learning technology to solve a social impact problem. 

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In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

Financial (e.g. improving accounting practices, pitching to investors)

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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Lucy Low

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More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

Sonder: Reading ASL with Computer Vision Object Detection Model

An online learning management system for hearing-impaired children and specialized teachers to teach the children. Inclusive and equitable educational opportunities for ALL. 

An online learning management system for hearing-impaired children and specialized teachers to teach the children. Inclusive and equitable educational opportunities for ALL. Features include tech that transcribes or adds subtitles to virtual collaboration tools like Zoom or phone calls and Connect with emergency services in a nonverbal way for safety purposes. Portable translator for deaf or hard-of-hearing students. Connect with Sonder to transcribe or live caption voice to text for classrooms, business meetings, doctor’s appointments, shopping, events, and more. Video Interpretor: Reading American Sign Langauge with Computer Vision Google Tensorflow Object Detection Model CNNs trained on object recognition for visual recognition tasks

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Sonder: Natural language processing

Connect with emergency services in a nonverbal way for safety purposes. Sound Recognition for Emergency —› Access smart algorithm for security and peace of mind. Alerts deaf and hard-of-hearing users to potential dangers around them bti creating a notification whenever the phone detects dangerous/important noises.

  1. Record Sounds Record environmental sounds to alert you in case of events. Sound monitors for Sirens, dog barks, smoke alarms, car horns, doorbells. running water. appliance beeps
  2. Set Safety Contacts Alerts the user with flashing lights or vibrations if special sounds are detected -creating a way to connect with emergency services in a nonverbal way. 3.Detectlon Mode Uses smartphone's microphone to constantly listen to the environment during "Detection Mode". Detects a broad range of sounds
  3. Connect to watch Users can have notifications go to their Apple Watch as well. in case they don't always want to be checking their phone to check if the oven has gotten up to temperature.
  4. Emergency Mode Alerts user by vibrating smartphone and smartwatch. flashing mobile's camera light. and showing icon image of event on screen with a text note of the name.



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What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

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Track quality of life in students to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being, educational wellness for all at all ages helping support UN's sustainable development goals:

https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal...

https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal...

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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

Track quality of life in students to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being, educational wellness for all at all ages helping support UN's sustainable development goals:

https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal...

https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal...

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What is your theory of change?

Reach: Communication is the key to influence with connecting healthcare networks to underserved communities. Healthcare providers need to attract audiences who can make the most of your work or benefit from it. Effective coverage requires active communication within and outside the  senior's normal network to obtain the best knowledge. This is why using machine learning with mobile technology helps with increasing the seniors reach to create an improved healthcare environment. 

Engage: Help the senior audience understand the healthcare research innovations by adapting relevance and pertinence to their needs and expertise. Ideally, the project will attract healthcare stakeholders to participate. Improved knowledge of technical best practices through extension and outreach to senior communities.  

Change: The real impact requires changes-attitudes, practices, policies, processes and products. Sonder's business can help this process by establishing relationships with individuals and organizations that can conduct research like ASL organizations, deaf childern caregivers, and goverment organizations.

Amplify: Change is the beginning of impact, but to achieve the size of the effect, a consensus must be reached on the effect. The use of advocates, cooperation and the media are the key to a major, far-reaching and lasting impact.

Policy: Strengthening of marketing and governance structures of senior cooperatives and unions. Advise and provide support to seniors to put in place efficient regulation and legislation to enable private-sector-led development business. Build nationwide institutional capacity to develop and implement policy, as well as to monitor and evaluate gains in healthcare through relevant ministries. 

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Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

An online learning management system for hearing-impaired children and specialized teachers to teach the children. Inclusive and equitable educational opportunities for ALL. Features include tech that transcribes or adds subtitles to virtual collaboration tools like Zoom or phone calls and Connect with emergency services in a nonverbal way for safety purposes. Portable translator for deaf or hard-of-hearing students. Connect with Sonder to transcribe or live caption voice to text for classrooms, business meetings, doctor’s appointments, shopping, events, and more. Video Interpretor: Reading American Sign Langauge with Computer Vision Google Tensorflow Object Detection Model CNNs trained on object recognition for visual recognition tasks

Connect with emergency services in a nonverbal way for safety purposes. Sound Recognition for Emergency —› Access smart algorithm for security and peace of mind. Alerts deaf and hard-of-hearing users to potential dangers around them bti creating a notification whenever the phone detects dangerous/important noises.

  1. Record Sounds Record environmental sounds to alert you in case of events. Sound monitors for Sirens, dog barks, smoke alarms, car horns, doorbells. running water. appliance beeps
  2. Set Safety Contacts Alerts the user with flashing lights or vibrations if special sounds are detected -creating a way to connect with emergency services in a nonverbal way. 3.Detectlon Mode Uses smartphone's microphone to constantly listen to the environment during "Detection Mode". Detects a broad range of sounds
  3. Connect to watch Users can have notifications go to their Apple Watch as well. in case they don't always want to be checking their phone to check if the oven has gotten up to temperature.
  4. Emergency Mode Alerts user by vibrating smartphone and smartwatch. flashing mobile's camera light. and showing icon image of event on screen with a text note of the name.
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Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new application of an existing technology

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
  • Software and Mobile Applications
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 4. Quality Education
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
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Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

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What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

Factors including populations who experience systematic, economic, or geographic barriers in terms of access to software and tech solutions for healthcare. As Sonder's software scales, it is important to make diversity, equity, and inclusion considerations with groups research design, implementation, and outcomes. This will ensure gender equity and the inclusion of other marginalized groups research design, implementation, and outcomes:

Female-led with a diverse representation in the founding team. We are dedicated to increasing the representation in STEM research. Collect sex disaggregated statistics, with gender-sensitive baseline - especially BIPOC deaf students who are often "invisible" to the educational system. Youth STEM outreach programs to encourage young people from underrepresented communities to be interested in artificial intelligence and support development of a young class of future scientists through training and financing Scale up and replicate successful programs to raise access to quality healthcare for everyone everywhere, including community-based programs like deaf ASL educational outreach; and advocacy for greater government allocation to healthcare interventions by strengthening partnerships, cooperatives and unions to promote collaboration for rare diagnostic community Prioritize a DEI workforce which strives for equity, and respects, accepts and values difference by requiring all incoming employees to participate in DEI training session - Develop and manage review committee, made up of multi-disciplinary experts Monitor surveys that include demographic information about users  Mentor and teach historically underrepresented groups with inclusive lesson plans inclusive of Indigenous education leaders to deliver proactive community-based outreach. Reduce barriers for Indigenous communities and financial obstacles faced by low-income by offering free software Research how certain age-related illnesses will affect researching inequalities and/or underserved populations

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Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

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What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

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Solution Team

 
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