According to Gallaudet University, up to 600,000 people use American Sign Language as their primary form of communication. This week, Snapchat launched a new filter to promote the ASL alphabet.
Designed by a team of deaf and hard of hearing Snapchat employees who call themselves the “Deafengers”, the Alphabet ASL lens teaches users to spell their name, practice the ASL alphabet, and play games that test their fluency of sign language.
“Really, there’s a lot of potential,” Deafenger designer Austin Vaday told NBC News via a sign interpreter. “Sky is the limit.”
Building on the hand-tracking technology that powered 2021’s Fingerspelling Goals, the ASL Alphabet Goal was launched on Tuesday in partnership with SignAll, a startup that uses AI to translate sign language into real time.
“We are constantly working to expand the ways Snapchatters can express themselves and connect through our camera,” Snapchat said in a statement.
“For native signers, in a world where linguistic inequality is prevalent, we believe AR can help evolve the way we communicate,” the company added.
The ASL Alphabet lens is now available for Snapchat users on iOS and Android.