Signly app gives deaf museum visitors access to information in British Sign Language

Signly, an app that gives deaf museum visitors access to information in British Sign Language has won a prestigious accessibility award.

Signly was developed in collaboration with the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, in Buckinghamshire. Users point their smartphone at the displays and exhibits around the museum to see information in BSL.

The idea earned the Jodi Award 2017 – given to the best uses of digital technology to improve accessibility in museums, galleries and libraries. Previous winners include the Canadian Museum for Human Rights – which integrated digital sign language displays and audio description into all exhibits – as well as producing touch screens that could be controlled using tactile and voice commands.

signly logoSteve Gardam, Director of the Roald Dahl Museum, said that the Buckinghamshire centre was, “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.”

The app’s co-founder, Mark Applin, said the museum had shown “a real pioneer spirit” in adopting the app.  “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.”

The Manchester Museum was given special commendation at the awards – for their technology that would allow guests to touch and interact with digitally scanned artefacts – where the originals may be too fragile.

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