assistALL , an innovation by Signs Media Kenya Limited becomes the first mobile phone app to provide sign language interpretation services in Kenya. The app, that was initially developed to bridge the communication gap between deaf persons and healthcare providers at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, is now being utilized in other sectors such as higher education, general healthcare, judicial system, government services and finance.
assistALL is also creating employment opportunities for sign language interpreters who have the potential to earn a consistent income as the app brings them closer to their customer base without having to consider the logistics of travel. They are therefore able to serve more deaf people, an important step to promote inclusion of deaf persons by enabling them access essential services.
For corporates and professionals, assistALL will allow them to access this consumer segment that has in the past not been considered during business planning. There are over 260,000 people with hearing impairments in the market, a sizeable portion of the market that needs to be in consideration when planning the needs of any organization.
assistALL operates on a per second billing platform, and with as little as Kes.30 one can access a sign language interpreter. The app can be downloaded through the Google Play store on android devices. The target is to achieve 10,000 downloads by the end of 2022 and so far more than 500 users have downloaded the app.
The assistALL journey began in 2020 where an idea from the signs media team became reality through the support of UNDP-K Disability innovation challenge. assistALL was among five innovations chosen and supported from ideation to become a minimum viable product. In 2021, Signs Media Kenya Limited was the only African owned and operated start up to be awarded a grant by the GSMA Innovation Fund for Assistive Tech, an initiative currently funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). The Fund aims to open up opportunities for innovative start-ups and SMEs across Africa and Asia to address the Mobile Disability Gap.
The GSMA Innovation Fund supports innovative digital solutions with positive socio-economic impact in low and middle income countries. GSMA believes digital solutions have the power to sustainably reduce inequalities within our world by connecting everyone and everything to a better future.
Over the next few months, the assistALL team will focus on user acquisition and quality of service. They are also planning to expand the geographical scope to other African countries and develop other assistive technology products to be become an assistive technology platform for all.