Dealflow | August 6, 2018

Hand Talk raises early funding for Brazilian sign language app

Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, August 6 – There are more than 360 million hearing impaired people in the world, communicating through 200 sign languages, each of which have their own semantics and syntax. Hand Talk launched in 2012 to help nearly 10 million hearing impaired Brazilians communicate more easily with Brazil’s official sign language, Libras.

“About 80% of the Brazilian deaf struggle to read and write the oral language of their country, because the communication experience of these people is exclusively visual,” Hand Talk’s website states. “Most of the deaf rely solely on sign language to communicate and access information.”

São Paulo-based impact investment firm Kviv has backed (translated) Hand Talk with 2.5 million reais ($670,000) to expand its text-to-sign language platform. Hand Talk’s app and web tool convert standard text to Libras through a 3-D animated character named Hugo. (Check out this demo.) Hand Talk’s desktop version includes a plug-in that allows website owners to make their sites Libras/Hugo friendly. 

Hand Talk’s app has been downloaded more than two million times, and companies like EY and Avon are using its web plug-in. It recently acquired another company, ProDeaf, that had developed a similar concept for Brazil’s deaf community.