A team of Deaf and hard-of-hearing Snapchat engineers known as the “Deafengers” at the company have created an ASL Alphabet Lens to help users learn the basics of American Sign Language.
Using AR Technology, the Lens teaches users to fingerspell their names, practice the ASL Alphabet and play games to “put their new skills to the test.”
The Lens, launched last month, is the first of its kind and encourages users to learn American Sign Language.
In aSnapchat said, “For native signers, in a world where linguistic inequity is prevalent, we believe AR can help evolve the way we communicate. We look forward to learning more from our community as we strive to continuously improve experiences for everyone on Snapchat.”
Austin Vaday, one of the deaf engineers who helped develop the Lens said helping the world understand sign language is important. He shared hiswith NBC correspondent Erin McLaughlin on TODAY after the Lens was released.
Vaday didn’t learn American Sign Language until he was 12. Before then he relied mostly on lip-reading to communicate. ASL changed his life. That life-changing moment helped inspire the ASL Alphabet Lens.
The ASL Alphabet Lens was designed and developed over six months in partnership with SignAll.
There are approximately 48 million deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States, according to the National Association of the Deaf.
Vaday said the ASL Alphabet Lens came from the desire to find a way to appropriately and properly educate people so they can communicate with those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Vaday said the team focused on the core values of intelligence, creativity, and empathy while working on the project and it’s a step to opening communication for all Snap users with the deaf and hard of hearing community.
The ASL Alphabet Lens is available to all Snapchat users.