On 16 July 2021, an intelligent real-time sign language translator designed by teens was announced as a winner for a £20,000 tech-for-good prize for 11-16-year-olds. The Amazon Longitude Explorer Prize challenges young, innovative minds to design and develop technological solutions to the big issues of our time that deliver social good.
Radhika Iyer, Vivien Wu, Megan Gill, and Olympia Andipa, the members of The Sign Champions, were named winners of the national competition at a virtual awards ceremony. Inspired by the experience of their friend who is deaf - as well as the experience of the 11 million people in the UK who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and the UK’s 151,000 BSL speakers - the team designed, developed and coded BSL: Educate-2-Translate to interpret BSL and translate it into spoken English, and likewise translate spoken English into BSL videos. In addition, the app aims to teach BSL to non-speakers with personalised feedback to video footage of the user practising.
Educate-2-Translate team. (L-R): Megan Gill, Radhika Iyer, Olympia Adipa, Vivien Wu, St Paul's Girls School.
The team explained: “Our friend Amy is deaf, as are 11 million other people in the UK. Although she can communicate with her close friends and family using sign language, she finds it difficult to perform daily tasks such as ordering food at a restaurant or going for a job interview - in fact the employment gap between deaf people and the general population is 14% as a result of the lack of access when it comes to BSL. Our app, BSL: Educate-2-Translate, aims to make learning and using sign language more accessible to bring, often distant, communities together”.