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Israeli app helps deaf community engage, cope in war and peace

JERUSALEM, Israel – With war and conflict being so much a part of everyday life, an Israeli company has developed a free real-time and on-demand sign language interpretation app for members of the deaf community to use on smartphones.

With a team of interpreters available and speaking and signing in various sign languages, the video call service is available anywhere, anytime.

During the last round of violence earlier this month between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, the company Sign Now conducted its first pilot tests with Gaza residents.

“We don’t get involved in politics. We’re here to lead a social revolution,” said Tomer Levy, Sign Now’s founder and CEO.

He told Fox News Digital that 20 Gazans have used the app during this pilot, communicating with Arab-speaking interpreters. They were able to get updates on the situation in and outside of Gaza, communicate with doctors and, most importantly, share their feelings with their colleagues.

This is not the first time the company has helped the deaf. Israeli users have used it in war and peace, and many Ukrainian and Russians have used it since the Russian invasion of Ukraine

“They were able to talk to their family and friends, get medical advice and even arrange their travel from Ukraine to Israel and other places,” Levy told Fox News Digital.

The pilot only recently entered this stage with Gazans.
The app lets people sign with sign language speakers about what is going on in their country.
Sign Now

“Our goal is to help the hard of hearing to integrate in the best possible way in today’s world. When a hearing person speaks with a sign language interpreter, he pays much more attention to the person in front of him.”

According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are more than 70 million deaf people worldwide. The vast majority live in developing countries using more than 300 different variations of sign language.

On Sept. 23, the United Nations marks International Day of Sign Languages. The theme for this year is Building Inclusive Communities for All. 

The World Federation of the Deaf will urge communities, governments and civil society representatives to recognize and promote the different national sign languages worldwide. It has pledged to sign a declaration of support for sign languages as a fundamental human right for the deaf community.

Those in the pilot test sign with Arab-speaking interpreters.
There are 20 Gazans in the pilot test.
Sign Now

Levy founded the company in 2019, and tens of thousands of people have used the app and its website.

Shortly after Levy launched the company, his first significant milestone was the company interpreting the Eurovision Song Contest and broadcasting it on YouTube.

With help from the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation’s television channel and the European Broadcasting Union, the deaf community in Israel could understand the international singing competition for the first time.

Levy’s next goal is to make upcoming World Cup soccer games accessible in 15 different sign languages.

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