For someone who is deaf, communicating with a clerk at a retail store or non-ASL-speaking friend over dinner often involves laboriously writing notes. An app called Jeenie offers an alternative: Push a button, and a live ASL interpreter appears in a video call.
The app previously offered live interpreters for some languages—hearing customers who need a translator who speaks Mandarin or Spanish, for example, can use Jeenie to pull up a video call with that translator while traveling. The founders realized that the deaf community didn’t have a similar option for everyday life, which is why they created this simple, affordable solution.
After someone using the app chooses ASL as a language and pushes a button to start a video call, an interpreter will appear within a minute, at any time of day. During the conversation, the user may use one-handed signing, a shortcut that allows them to hold the phone or tablet with the other hand. The interpreter will speak loudly so the other person in the room can clearly hear.
Whereas in-person interpreters usually cost between $90 to $125 an hour, Jeenie charges just $1 per minute and also offers packages with lower rates. The company is currently working with around 100 ASL interpreters, who are paid half of the revenue that Jeenie generates each minute.