Signly selected as one of ten finalists in 2017 European Social Innovation Competition ‘Equality Rebooted’

Ten European social innovators to compete for three €50,000 prizes awarded by the European Commission

Signly has been selected from a shortlist of 30 semi-finalists out of almost 800 entries in the 2017 edition of the European Social Innovation Competition, Equality Rebooted. This year’s Finalists have ideas to ‘reboot’ equality and ensure everyone in Europe benefits from the opportunities created by technological change. Their solutions present fresh, energetic approaches to digital inclusion, collaborative economy, connectivity and skills development. See the full 2017 Competition announcement and list of all 30 semi-finalists, including the 10 finalists here: bit.ly/2017diogochallenge

The average deaf school leaver has a reading age equivalent to that of a 9-year-old hearing child. Because literacy can be low amongst the d/Deaf masses of essential written content is not independently accessible for this group.

For example, an investigation by the (Money Advice Service (MAS) has found young blind or deaf people in the UK receive “barely any” specialised financial education.

An estimate for the European Union is 750,000 Deaf sign language users. This does not include people learning a sign language as a second language or children of Deaf parents or other family members.

Signly is an app which displays pre-recorded sign language videos on a user’s mobile, enabling better access to written content for d/Deaf sign language users at a time and place that is suitable for them. Signly enabling books or brochures on the topic of money management alongside the written word could drive financial and digital literacy and help improve reading skills.

Mark Applin, Co-founder at Signly said:

“This is an incredible opportunity to make a difference to the lives of young d/Deaf people. Our mentor helped give us real clarity and focus – we’d always had a keen interest in education and zooming in on the topic of money management was a real epiphany and getting the detail down in a business plan has given us a clear strategy for the next 12 months.

Now we’re finalists, we hope awareness of the app will grow and we can secure a large technical partner. The potential prize would be our first ever round of funding and help us deliver our goal of making essential information accessible to the Deaf community.”

Signly attended a mentoring academy in Madrid in July where they worked with experts in social innovation to refine their idea, before pitching to a jury of successful social innovators with expertise in digital innovation and skills development. Over the summer, they worked with an individual coach to develop their business plan. The jury have now critically evaluated each business plan and selected the 10 strongest entries.

Anna Sienicka, Vice President Europe Techsoup and member of the 2017 jury commented:

“As a jury, we were excited by the diversity and scope of all the shortlisted projects this year. They prove that social innovation will help to make our world more equal and fit for the future. All 10 finalists are fantastic examples of the types of tools, services and models that enable people, regardless of their specific context and environment, to seize the opportunities of the digital revolution. I hope these projects will inspire others to put their own ideas into action, and also catalyse new ways of addressing inequality for governments and communities throughout Europe alike.”

Organised since 2012 in memory of Portuguese politician and social innovator Diogo Vasconcelos, the European Social Innovation Competition will help the most innovative ideas to become real and sustainable projects.

Three winners will be selected from the 10 Finalists and will each be awarded with a prize of €50,000 at the Awards Ceremony on 26 October 2017 in Brussels.

For full details please visit: http://ec.europa.eu/growth/social-innovation-competition

Follow the competition on Twitter: @EUSocialInnov #diogochallenge


Notes to editors

About the European Social Innovation Competition

The European Social Innovation Competition, launched in memory of Diogo Vasconcelos, is a challenge prize run by the European Commission across all European countries, now in its fifth year. The theme of the 2017 competition is Equality Rebooted and seeks to find innovations in tools, services, and models that allow everyone to seize the opportunities offered by technological change.

The competition is organised by the European Commission, supported by Nesta, Kennisland, Shipyard, Impact Hub and Matter&Co.

For information about previous competitions and winning projects see:

2016:  http://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/newsroom/cf/itemdetail.cfm?item_id=8973&lang=en

2015: http://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/newsroom/cf/itemdetail.cfm?item_id=8567&lang=en&title=These-are-the-winners-of-the-2015-European-Social-Innovation-Competition

2014: http://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/newsroom/cf/itemdetail.cfm?item_id=7531&lang=en&title=Three-projects-meet-the-European-Job-Challenge-and-receive-the-Social-Innovation-Prize

2013: http://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/newsroom/cf/itemdetail.cfm?item_id=6699&lang=en&title=Best-social-innovation-ideas.-New-ways-to-create-new-jobs-and-businesses

About Signly

We believe the Signly app is unique – a UK and world first.

Signly is an award-winning app which displays pre-recorded sign language videos on a user’s mobile, enabling better access to written content for d/Deaf sign language users.

For more information on Signly please visit signly.co or contact mark@signly.co

For press enquiries please contact:
Rachel Pidgeon rachel@matterandco.com +44 (0)203 861 3341

Signly Innovation at Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre wins at 2017 Jodi Awards Ceremony

Revolutionary new app unlocks cultural venues for d/Deaf people

Signly, an app created for d/Deaf British Sign Language users in collaboration with the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, has won the prestigious Jodi Award 2017. Winners were chosen from a shortlist of museums, galleries, archives, libraries and heritage sites that make best use of technology to widen access for disabled people and those with sensory impairment. The presentations were made at a special ceremony held at the Attenborough Arts Centre of Leicester University on Thursday 27 June 2017. Judges were impressed by the strong testimonials and feedback from users of the Signly App and its value as an innovative tool in enhancing the experience for d/Deaf visitors to the Museum.

Steve Gardam, Director of the Roald Dahl Museum, was delighted to hear of the recognition Signly has received from the Jodi Mattes Trust.

“The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre is proud to have been the first public venue to use Signly, and an investor in developing the app. Roald Dahl loved inventiveness and Signly is a great way for a small museum like ours, in a complex set of old buildings, to inventively increase accessibility using the technology visitors bring in their own pockets.”

Steve Gardam, Director, The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre

Signly is an app which displays pre-recorded sign language videos on a user’s mobile, enabling better access to visual content for d/Deaf sign language users. The app is downloaded from the App Store or Google Play and when opened can be pointed at labels throughout the Museum to display British Sign Language videos. This enables visitors to access information about the exhibits without having to make known ‘a special need’ or to wait for interpreted tours.

Co-founder of Signly, Mark Applin explains how the app became a reality:

“The team at the Roald Dahl Museum showed a real pioneer spirit adopting Signly. Their forward–thinking approach and the passion of our co-founders at Deafax combined to make Signly a reality, not a concept. They rightly received plaudits from the d/Deaf community and kick-started Signly so we could reach other sectors. We’re so grateful.”

Being earmarked for this prestigious award means Signly can now reach deeper into the lives of the d/Deaf community where its benefits are starting to be felt in other sectors such as finance, safety, health and the Arts.


Notes for editors

Images: Jpg images available online
Or from Signly Press Officer hello@signly.co


Signly is an app which displays pre-recorded sign language videos on a user’s mobile, enabling better access to visual content for d/Deaf sign language users. Signly is ideal for museums, galleries, theatres, leisure centres, libraries, information centres, bus and rail stations, airports… any organisation looking to meet its obligations under the Equality Act 2010. Quickly translating key messages into filmed sign language for the app, content is triggered at key locations on the visitor route simply by holding up a smart device against a Signly ‘marker’ or object.

For further information or to arrange a visit to the Roald Dahl Museum to see Signly in action, please contact Mark Applin mark@signly.co 07870 591332.


The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre is aimed at 6 to12 year olds and their families and is situated in the village of Great Missenden, where Roald Dahl lived and wrote for 36 years. It has three fun and fact-packed interactive galleries. Visitors can see the original interior of his Writing Hut, the ramshackle but magical place where he crafted all his children’s stories.

For further information about the Museum, please contact Isabelle Reynolds isabelle@roalddahlmuseum.org 01494 892192


Established in 1985, Deafax develops solutions and opportunities for deaf people, to empower them and enhance their lives. Deafax is the number one organisation for specialist visual and interactive deaf-friendly resources.
Our training and resources cover a wide range of different topics in the fields of health, employment, education and life skills and our visual, interactive, specialist approach is consistent throughout.
In visitor attractions and other locations, we know that written English is not always the best way to share information with deaf people, as many of them prefer sign language. Signly is therefore a major step forward in providing equal access for more people.

For more information about Deafax’ work, please email helen@deafax.org

How IoT-supported Appliances and Machines Can Help Deaf People

Guest writer: Allie Cooper, Writer

There’s no stopping technology from revolutionizing the way we live our lives and assisting those who need help. This is evident with the increasing ownership of the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) technologies. Research by Gartner mentioned that there were 5.5 million new IoT devices in 2016 which is set to grow to 20.8 billion by 2020.

Management software developer Telogis cited a few factors that would enable the IoT to continue flourishing:

  • Wide availability of internet
  • Increased ownership of devices
  • Reduced cost of technology and software development
  • Enhance connectivity through advanced sensors

While the benefits people receive from these advancements vary, one particular market that will profit from the IoT is the deaf. With Internet-enabled devices, people with hearing impairments will be able to learn words and communicate easily with others.

“Smart homes offer tools for people with disabilities to live more independently, allowing them to take control—turn on and off lights, find out who knocks on the door,” said Mark Perriello, spokesman of American Association of People with Disabilities. “They have the ability to be transformative.”

But, how can internet-based technologies assist deaf people? Read on below to find out how the Internet of Things will be able to assist the deaf and help them recognized the world around them more clearly.

Enhanced security

A specific feature people love about home automation technology is its enhanced security through its advanced sensors. While deaf people might not respond to sound alerts, smart security systems are able to provide alerts to their smartphones, tablets, or wearables in the event that the sensors pick up any suspicious movements outside the house. The alert can also inform them if anyone is at the door or allow them to view whoever is outside through CCTVs that is paired with software or an app.

Improvements in literacy rate

Based on this featured infographic, children with hearing impairments learn a language at a rate of 50-60% compared to normal children, with the average deaf child starting to learn how to read by the age of 8-9. As a solution, IoT devices (such as smartphones) have offered them a way to increase their literacy rate. Apps such as Signly allow users of all ages to learn BSL (British Sign Language) quickly through augmented reality that teaches them about the information on specific signage, pictures and more. Smartphones, particularly iPhones, also come with ‘Accessibility’ features that make it easier to be used by deaf users along with IoT-hearing aids that can be paired with the handset.

Increase in health awareness

Smartphones and wearable devices are now offering a way for people to easily manage and track their health through built-in sensors and their paired apps that presents users with wellness data. Deaf people will also be able to use the same feature in measuring their health daily and promote a healthier lifestyle. In addition, there are high-tech wearables that are able to connect patients with their carers in case of emergencies, This type of IoT devices improve the safeness of the user and provides quick assistance to them when necessary.

It is important not to lose sight of the important advantages that the IoT can bring to deaf users. Although the technology is still in its infancy, experts forecast that the Internet of Things will flourish in the next few years, especially given its benefit to people with disabilities.

Technology we can bank on

Signly have been working closely with our friends at Lloyds Bank to improve accessibility and champion their commitment to customers who use British Sign Language.

Lloyds Bank are our first financial services partner and we’ve been super excited here at Signly HQ. Throughout our life we all make many important financial decisions – what bank account to open, how to finance our first home, what savings options are there available to us? It’s extremely important that we are able to evaluate the best choices for us and our family, as well as understand the risks and rewards in every decision we make.

Signly hopes that by working with Lloyds Bank we can eliminate the financial jargon that can sometimes be confusing, and allow those that use British Sign Language (BSL) as their first language to have the information literally at their fingertips. Friendly, clear and informative without relying on the availability of an interpreter. Although family and friends like to help, and interpreters are available, it’s empowering to access information on demand without having to make a ‘special need’ known.

Nick Williams, Lloyds Bank’s Consumer Digital director said,

“We are always looking for new ways to support our customers and trialling this new technology is a great example. Alongside SignVideo, Text Relay and our interpreting service, Signly provides a new tool to make it easier to engage with the Bank. Improving our services to make them simple and intuitive for all our customers is key to removing barriers of financial exclusion.”

Lloyd’s Banking Group kindly opened the doors to their Innovation Labs which provided a great environment in which to showcase Signly and gather feedback from some of their customers who use British Sign Language (BSL) as their first language.

Firstly, the team at Lloyds provided us with some financial services literature about products and services. Then the Signly team got to work Signly-enabling the content – creating signposts, confirming understanding and filming BSL translations. Once filming was complete the team started coding to Signly-enable the content for the trial, allowing customers to use a smartphone to view the BSL content through augmented reality.

Mark Applin, Signly Co-Founder had the pleasure of attending the trials and collecting feedback first hand.

“It’s always an amazing and emotional moment when I see BSL users open the app for the first time, and hey presto, signed content appears. Working with Lloyds, we realised how important it is to provide BSL users with the ability to consume information via a channel of their choosing – in this case, Signly.”

The trials showcased Signly in a new sector and opens the door for other content providers to make important content more accessible.

What to see Signly in action for yourself?! To arrange a demo call Mark on 07870591332 or email mark@signly.co

We’re waiting to hear from you!

Lloyds Bank press release can be downloaded here