An Israeli startup is working to make the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar accessible to the deaf community.
“There are going to be thousands of deaf people coming to Qatar from all over the world,” Tomer Levy, founder and CEO of Sign Now, told i24NEWS. “From their houses, some 50 million deaf people will watch the games.”
The app provides live video translation services in sign language. It offers a variety of video call options including pre-scheduled calls, and on-demand calls
There are around 90 million deaf people in the world, around 1.15 percent of the global population.
Deaf people face daily accessibility challenges because most people do not speak sign language. This leaves them to heavily rely on interpreters. Sign Now aims to give deaf people more independence and confidence in their everyday lives – for example when talking to their doctor, bank, or customer service.
The app will be a free service to deaf people, and will be sold to businesses and government institutions. It also helps them in emergency situations and has helped deaf people from Ukraine to communicate with long-distance family members, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and embassies, and emergency services.
This isn’t the first time Sign Now has assisted the deaf community during emergency situations. Bank Hapoalim, one of Israel’s largest banks, helped fund the app during last year’s military operation Guardian of the Walls, allowing hard of hearing people in Israel to contact trauma centers and emergency centers, and call their loved ones.
Sign Now was founded in 2019 in Tel Aviv, and has around ten employees. The app is still in development.