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Interview with Vanesa Barán

Photo of Vanesa Barán. She is wearing a t-shirt with the LSApp logo and showing her cellphone since the App can be seen in its screen.

Vanesa Barán is the LSApp Developer

Women in Science

Technologies that change lives

Comparlante had an interview with Vanesa Barán, the developer of LSApp, an App to learn Argentine Sign Language.

In the context of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science celebrated every February 11th since 2016, Fundación Comparlante discussed with Vanesa Barán, a woman with hearing disability graduated of the Systems Analysis career at Escuela Da Vinci in Buenos Aires.

Her interest in making communication between the deaf and the hearing community more accessible encouraged her to develop LSApp, an App allowing to arrange vocabulary in a virtual dictionary of Argentine Sign Language (LSA, for its Spanish acronym).

Why is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science celebrated? The United Nation (UN) declared this date to support scientist women and to promote women and girls to access education, training, and investigation in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The UN Agenda 2030 sets as a priority to achieve gender equality. The Sustainable Development Goal 5 states that gender discrimination is an obstacle to be removed. In this sense, drawing attention to actions not only leaded by scientist women, but also promoting access and enabling communication with many other women, one of the main barriers women and girls with disability face, is required.

In 2017, Vanesa had to develop a dissertation to obtain her degree. At that moment, she had the idea to carry out a survey between many people with hearing impairment in Argentina to find out which App could ease communication among her community; thus, she developed LSApp with the responses.

Which are the App features?

LSApp is a free mobile App which includes a virtual dictionary of Argentine Sign Language (LSA) that searches every word in a fast and simple manner, and helps to arrange and to sort out vocabulary. LSApp has 3 sections:

  • A sign search box that translates Spanish to LSA with a 3D female avatar who shows 624 basic signs.
  • Games to foster Sign Language learning in an amusing and easy way.
  • Pieces of advice to know how to successfully communicate with people with hearing impairment. For instance, do not cover up your lips, do not speak when you have your back turned, etc.

To which audience is it intended?

The App is intended to either deaf and hearing people who are willing to learn basic signs of Sign Language, also to institutions such as hospitals or clinics treating deaf patients, to police, firefighters, etc., who need to learn basic signs to communicate with people with hearing impairment.

Moreover, people with hearing disability use it to find signs they do not remember or to learn any they ignore.

As for hearing people, our main users are people with hearing disability´s relatives or friends since they need to communicate and do not have the knowledge to do it. LSApp also helps people with intellectual disability who have speaking difficulties and communicate with signs.

Currently, the App has a 100 thousand active users.

Photo of the team behind LSApp. All are smiling and wearing black t-shirts with the App logo.
The LSApp team is comprised of two areas: one of social networks and the App, and the other related to LSA courses and trainings.

Did you have any financial assistance to create the App?

I graduated with this basic Android App, and professors told me to move forward with LSApp. So, they recommended to sign up for the contest “#VosLoHaces” from the Autonomous City Government of Buenos Aires.

For this reason, I participated along with 3000 participants. In December 2017, I won first prize in the “social impact” category. I used the money I won in the contest to offer the first version so that people interested in learning Sign Language could do it gradually, playfully, and didactically.  Therefore, I worked together with engineers, programmers, 3D designers and graphic designers.

This is a free, nonprofit App for everyone. I do not have any economic support neither from the State nor from the private sector. This is the reason why we could not develop the second version.

We aim at adding new signs, a male avatar, and increasing the game levels. So, to be able to move forward, we need donations and economic support. All the proposals are welcome, and you can help us by logging to the web site www.lsapp.com.ar or contacting me via e-mail contacto@lsapp.com.ar.

Does LSApp offer training courses on Sign Language?

Since the last year, hearing impairment teachers had offer virtual courses on Argentine Sign Language for different levels. People who are interested in learning can request information via email cursos.lsapp@gmail.com.

Have you thought about another project to ease accessibility for deaf community?

We cannot go into details yet, but we have been working with several projects and we are happy about that because it takes time and a lot of effort, but we are getting closer to it.

Learn more about the App

Facebook: @AplicacionLSApp; Instagram: @aplicacionlsapp; Twitter:@lsapp_; Linkedin: LSApp; YouTube: LSApp

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