A new video app has the potential to revolutionize the way deaf people interact in their every day lives, no matter which country they are in.
Writing notes back and forth can be painfully slow and inconvenient, especially in a retail environment, but the Jeenie language-translation app has launched a new option which instantly connects users with an ASL interpreter to help them quickly solve tricky conversations.
“It can be challenging to communicate in everyday life with people who are not fluent in ASL,” Laura Yellin, a deaf woman who has been testing the app’s new ASL feature, told Fast Company. “For example, dealing with an issue at the dry cleaners and needing to talk to a supervisor or manager can be tricky via paper and pen or typing on the phone back and forth. It makes it a lot easier to have an interpreter available for situations like that.”
Within one minute of placing a request for help, users can be connected with an interpreter at any hour of the day, according to Jeenie, which says it has 100 operators on-call.
One of the best features about their video calling app is its low cost. Although traditional Video Relay Services (VRS) may be available for free in the US, they are no good in Canada, for instance, and they may need special requirements.
As the company researched products that provide in-person interpreters, they found very expensive fees because services were geared toward the business world—charging $90 to $125 an hour.
Jeenie charges $1 per minute, but their packages take that fee down even further—and the interpreters earn half of all the revenue generated.
Jeenie is not just paving the way for the next generation of ASL interpreter services, they are hoping to expand to other sign languages, such as British and Chinese Sign Language, leading to millions more convenient and detailed interactions between people across the world.
(WATCH the demonstration video below)
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