Blackburn-made app promotes deaf awareness

A sign language school based at Ewood Park is having success abroad, thanks to innovative new software.

‘Seen to be Heard UK’ (STBH) has developed a child friendly app that is being used by teachers and pupils to learn sign language. It aims to make sign language more accessible and promote deaf awareness in schools, in both the UK and America.

The software, ‘Primary Sign’, provides teachers with customisable lesson plans and includes interactive games that children can play at school or at home. It has been specially designed to be fun as well as educational, and is presented by a selection of animated characters.

The software is available from Apple’s app store and a version can be accessed via Edmodo, a popular social media website for American teachers. It is also being used by schools around the UK.

Intellectual Property guidance and part of the development cost was provided by the ERDF supported Lancashire Innovation Network (LIN), which is delivered by Regenerate Pennine Lancashire.

Debra Reynolds, managing director at STBH, said: “I’m deaf myself and know how frustrating it can be for young people, so am very passionate about bringing awareness into schools. Primary Sign helps signing be more accessible to everyone and can be used by teachers, pupils and their parents too.”

“Regenerate provided match funding to ensure the software can be customised to fit in with existing lesson plans. It was good to be able to bounce ideas of their advisor, who had run businesses of his own in the past. We hope to be taking on more staff off the back of this project.”

Hugh Roberts, business support and innovation manager at Regenerate, said: “Not only is the app for a good cause, but it has helped STBH tap into an international market through the use of technology. Regenerate helps businesses across the county like STBH access what they need to grow and compete through technology and innovation.”

Primary Sign was an Education Resource Awards 2012 finalist in the ICT Special Education Equipment category. Photo: Managing Director Debra Reynolds with in-house designer Kelly Angel.