17-Year-Old Creates Free App that Makes Films More Accessible for Deaf Children
Mariella Satow, a 17-year-old girl with dual UK-US citizenship, typically lives in the UK but has been in New York since summer 2020 due to pandemic travel restrictions.
The most restrictive days of lockdown led her to create something brand new — a signing app called SignUp. The idea came about when she taught herself American Sign Language.
Many streaming platforms do not offer sign language options, rather just closed captions. It has taken over a year, but Mariella has finally developed technology in which an interpreter appears in a box in a corner of the screen once a film begins playing.
The app can be downloaded in the US as a Google Chrome Extension. It currently only works for Disney+ films, because Mariella felt this would be the most helpful for children, but she does plan to expand the capabilities soon.
“Me and my sister were avid movie watchers when we were younger, and I couldn’t imagine that not being a part of our childhood,” she tells Newsbeat.
An eight-year-old boy named Toby, who is deaf, found that watching movies or TV could be pointless since so many lacked sign language versions. Now, Toby can enjoy movies like everyone else. “This app creates a level playing field,” said Toby’s father.
“The most meaningful comments are when it’s the first time a child has had full access to a movie. The numbers don’t really matter, it’s the messages,” said Mariella.
Image source: BBC