When Mark Weiss hired a deaf maintenance tech at his FedEx facility a few months ago, he knew communicating with his new employee would be a challenge.
“We needed to hook him into our existing two-way radio system but I wasn’t sure how to make that happen,” said Weiss, Facility Maintenance Manager. “I was on the Motorola website doing some research on what might be possible, and that’s when I was referred to BAYCOM and started working with them on a solution.”
BAYCOM Communication Consultant Jim Harper is leading the effort to engineer a solution.
“The employee was already using AVA speech-to-text recognition software on his phone, so I called the founder of that company and we started brainstorming,” he said. “So far, we’ve pulled together a beta version of a solution that seems to be working pretty well.”
In the prototype, the employee’s Motorola XPR radio is equipped with a vibrating battery, which alerts him to an incoming transmission. Then, from the two-way radio, the audio is sent through a cable to his cell phone where the AVA app translates the audio into text.
“As a maintenance tech, this employee might be called to handle any number of different situations like machine breakdowns or jams, so it’s important to ensure he can communicate with us clearly and reliably,” said Weiss. “Jim Harper and his team have been extremely helpful bringing ideas and possible solutions to the table for us to try.”
Harper said he can appreciate the need to develop solutions that help companies build more inclusive workplaces; he’s hard of hearing himself. “There have been instances in my own life when hearing has been an issue, so I feel strongly about helping them get this taken care of. But mostly, I just think this speaks to who we are as a company. We’re here to help our customers solve problems.”
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