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Techies develop assistive app for the deaf

By Brian George | Nov 9th 2021 | 2 min read
By Brian George | November 9th 2021
Elly Savatia and Emmanuel Mulengwa developed Veezaviz, a mobile application that interprets hand movement and to text for the deaf. [Courtesy]

Elly Savatia, 20 and Emmanuel Mulengwa, 22 met at a previous job, working as research assistants. Their work entail interviewing people but along the way, there was a challenge.

Some of the people they were interacting with were deaf. This was a huge barrier in their work, which also needed to be done fast and with precision.

Coupled with the feeling of how the deaf were missing out on important issues in life, they retreated and thought of a solution for inclusion.

With their background in data science and business studies, they developed Veezaviz, an application that uses imagery to interpret hand movement to text for the deaf.

The software makes use of already loaded sign language data into the system, to give information without producing sound. All you need to do is to use sign language in front of a live camera that the app uses, then you will be able to interpret the words. Pretty much like how movie subtitles work.

Scovia, one of the beneficiaries of the application recounts the numerous times she has struggled with getting the right information even from television broadcasters.

Veezaviz has been her saving grace when she needs school assignments done, a big partner in the quest for inclusion.

But getting all that is not easy. Savatia and Mulengwa shared with The Innovator that one of the biggest challenges is inadequate data to load on the system.

“You can imagine trying to make a machine learn sign language, and interpret it in words that are understandable... there’s tonnes of data needed to be loaded on the system so that the software works effectively,” said Mulengwa, who is also the Chief Technical Officer at Veezaviz.

The duo’s solution is cost-effective as it uses a pay-to-use business model.

The solution has gotten support from Innovate Now, an assistive technology and innovation incubation hub that gives the opportunity for creating solutions for people living with disabilities (PWD’s).

“We pitched this business plan when seeking support, and fortunately enough we had a good run,” Savatia said.

Veezaviz is available only as a web app but plans are to have it be launched as a mobile application soon.

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