Yamillet Payano, of Dominican descent, is one of the creative minds behind Sign-Speak, a tool she has been developing since 2021. The application translates sign language to voice and text, and vice versa.
This Latina entrepreneur has brought to the table a tool for real inclusion for deaf or speech-disabled individuals, through an application based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) that facilitates smooth and barrier-free conversations.
The idea and motivation for Payano arose from observing the difficulties faced by her friend Nikolas Kelly, who is deaf from birth. Yamillet emphasized that the lack of interpreters in the United States and in different countries exacerbates this social problem.
At 27, the entrepreneur created a solution with the potential to help hearing-impaired individuals overcome obstacles in their daily lives.
The Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) from the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that one in 20 Americans experiences hearing loss or deafness.
This means that around 10 million people in the country have hearing problems, and about one million are considered ‘functionally deaf’, according to this bureau.
Payano is convinced that her application will contribute to overcoming these barriers and empowering deaf individuals and those with hearing disabilities.
She highlighted that technology like hers allows these individuals to achieve their goals without speech difficulties being an obstacle.
“We create technology like this so that they can do whatever they want and fulfill their goals in life, and speech difficulties are no longer a problem for them to develop,” explained the entrepreneur exclusively to EFE.
Brian Hertneky, deaf from birth, described the application as revolutionary and stated that it has significantly improved his daily life.
Hertneky praised the ability to have barrier-free conversations, regardless of location, and noted that the application will benefit both deaf and normal-hearing individuals, facilitating communication.
He also highlighted the crucial role of generative artificial intelligence in the development of the application.
This technology learns and creates content based on different patterns, such as spoken or written conversation. According to him, this will allow deaf and speech-impaired individuals to have the same opportunities as those who hear correctly.
It is projected that the number of people with hearing disabilities will increase globally in the coming years, reaching 711 million by the year 2050.
Yamillet Payano, who studied mathematical and economic sciences at American University, along with the other co-founders of Sign-Speak, envisions the possibility of using the platform in the future among people who speak different languages.