Project Details

Hand Talk

Translating text and audio into sign language in Brazil

Project URL:
Project Twitter: @handtalkBR

  • Social Exclusion
  • Mobile

The 2010 census in Brazil revealed that 9.7 million people are hard of hearing – 5% of the entire population. The figure is made even more staggering by the fact that 70% of those experiencing hearing loss have difficulties understanding Portuguese, the country’s official language. At the same time, there are over 200 different sign languages in the world, each with its own semantics and syntax. 

It’s a complex ecosystem that fascinated Brazilian advertiser Ronaldo Tenorio. Now CEO of his start-up Hand Talk, Tenorio created an app for the hearing impaired that turns Portuguese into sign language animations presented by ‘Hugo’ – a friendly 3D character that makes communication interactive and easy to understand. 

The app automatically translates text and audio into signs, and is free to download for Apple and Android devices. A number of web widgets are also available, where Hugo appears on the screen.  

Hand Talk has been downloaded more than one million times in Brazil, and thanks to a partnership with the Ministry of Education, is also available on tablets in thousands of public schools across the country. The app is now heralded as the most innovative project in Brazil in the country’s Hall of Innovation since 2012.

Since earlier this year – and just in time for the Rio 2016 Olympics – Hugo has been a popular feature at Rio de Janeiro’s Tom Jobim Airport, helping people with impaired hearing better navigate and explore the airport’s information and facilities.  

Not travelling to Brazil any time soon? You can try it for yourself by going to www.riogaleao.coM and clicking on the ‘Hand Talk’ icon on the right-hand side of the screen. 

Image courtesy of Hand Talk

Last updated: 02nd of August, 2016

Cookies on the Social Tech Guide

Social Tech Guide uses cookies to provide you with an enhanced user experience. To remove this message, please click continue.

Continue Learn more