This app gives deaf users an on-demand ASL interpreter

New service makes it possible to use live interpretation instead of the sometimes-laborious process of writing notes back and forth.

For someone who is deaf, communicating with a clerk at a retail store or non-ASL-speaking friend over dinner often involves laboriously writing notes. An app called Jeenie offers an alternative: Push a button, and a live ASL interpreter appears in a video call.


“It can be challenging to communicate in everyday life with people who are not fluent in ASL,” says Laura Yellin, a woman who is deaf who tested the app’s new ASL feature, which is launching now. “For example, dealing with an issue at the dry cleaners and needing to talk to a supervisor or manager can be tricky via paper and pen or typing on the phone back and forth. It makes it a lot easier to have an interpreter available for situations like that.”

The app previously offered live interpreters for some languages—hearing customers who need a translator who speaks Mandarin or Spanish, for example, can use Jeenie to pull up a video call with that translator while traveling. The founders realized that the deaf community didn’t have a similar option for everyday life. 

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