Breaking down communication barriers with sign language for all

This week I had the pleasure of meeting two young girls from The St Marylebone CE School in London, after they were announced as winners of the Apps for Good, People’s Choice Award 2017.

Apps for Good is a brilliant programme offering free expertise teaching and resource for schools and students, with the goal of challenging young people to change their world with technology. 

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There are more than 45,000 deaf children in the UK and 24,000 use sign language as their main language and form of communication. This can be very isolating, as it means communication with those who don’t know sign language is near impossible. In an attempt to break down barriers, raise awareness and create an accessible means for people to explore sign language, Sign Time was borne.

Anna, Lily and Michelle, conceptualised, designed and developed winning app, Sign Time, using games and instructional videos to help people learn sign language – and this week I was fortunate enough to meet two of the trio when Lily and Michelle came to the Virgin headquarters to tell me more about their work. I was blown away by how bright and eloquent they were – it’s not hard to understand how their winning pitch was such a success. (A pitch that saw them present to six judges and over 150 guests.)

Throughout the course of the project, the girls spent time talking to experts, researching the market and visited Lambeth Deaf Children’s Society to gain a real understanding of what their app needed to include to be fit for purpose.

Holly Branson, Apps for Good, Sign Time

Holly Branson, Apps for Good, Sign Time

Hearing Michelle and Lily talk through the process and how their individual skills and interests benefitted the project in different ways was wonderful to see. I’m a huge advocate for young people being encouraged to thrive in life, not just in the classroom, and can’t think of a better programme to support this.

In fact, Virgin Red chose to sponsor of the People’s Choice Award, feeling passionate about celebrating young people excelling in tech. Virgin Red believes technology has the ability to do great things, solve problems, connect people and create positive change. Sign Time is the perfect example of tech doing just that and we’re very proud of everyone who took part.

Congratulations Anna, Lily and Michelle – we can’t wait to see the finished app!


Find out more about Sign Time, Apps for Good and Virgin Red.

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