On March 28, 2016, KDDI CORPORATION released the "Starter-app for hearing-impaired athletes", a smartphone app for the hearing-impaired that uses light cues to signal the start of track and field events.
Hearing-impaired athletes typically have to keep their eyes on the starter pistol until a race begins, putting them at a disadvantage compared to hearing athletes who can remain squarely in the crouching position until the start. At the Deaflympics , light cues are used to signal the start of events for hearing-impaired athletes. However, track and field facilities in Japan are not adequately outfitted with this type of equipment, depriving many athletes the opportunity to train properly.
With the "Starter-app for hearing-impaired athletes", the light of the smartphone screen signals the start of a race, instead of the sound of the starter pistol. The smartphone with the installed app is placed on the ground in front of the athlete, and because the race start signal is conveyed on the screen, hearing-impaired athletes can practice their starts in the same position as hearing athletes.
Masahisa Takemi, a teacher at the Central School for the Deaf in Tokyo who serves as the track and field adviser, says, "I am hoping that this app will help all the hearing-impaired athletes in Japan, who have been at a disadvantage at the start of races."
In a class conducted in September 2015 as one of KDDI's IT educational activities, hearing-impaired students developed a prototype race starter app. Some of the students' ideas were then incorporated into the finished version of this app.
Moving forward, KDDI will continue to conduct IT educational activities for people with disabilities, as well as activities aimed at resolving social issues through the use of IT.
Details about class to develop "Starter-app for hearing-impaired athletes" (in Japanese only)
Efforts of the Central School for the Deaf track team to develop a new race starter app (in Japanese only)
For more details, see the Attachment.
Attachment：KDDI releases "Starter-app for hearing-impaired athletes", which uses light cues to signal the start of races