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5 Minutes with a Founder: Anne, the app that opens communication for millions of deaf-blind people.

Updated: Oct 2, 2022

The 5 Minutes with a Founder Series is a collection of short inspiring interviews

with small teams solving big problems.

One day, I was poking around one of my slack communities when I came across a post by Maddalena Zampitelli sharing about an app she and 3 friends created for deaf-blind people. The app called Anne (a name inspired by Helen Keller's assistant) recognizes when someone stops speaking, so it stops listening and begins translating into Morse code automatically. The app uses gestures and a proprietary haptic pattern so that the phone practically vibrates while someone is speaking, similarly to what we feel in our chest. It also allows you to easily tap in morse and translate to words.

I had to learn more about this incredible tool, so I asked Maddalena to join my interview series and share this work with us!

Brandi Holder: Maddalena, thank you so much for taking some time to share your work today! Please tell us more about the inspiration behind the app.

Maddalena Zampitelli: Sure! The inspiration for Anne came from hearing the challenges of one of the most inspiring people I've ever met, Matilde Lauria, a Paralympic judo champion living in Italy. She is deaf-blind and always needs a translator and someone to travel with her. Because deaf-blind people usually have different ways of communicating in different countries, communicating while traveling is not easy. For instance, in Italy, it's communicating with the finger using Malossi. While in other countries, they communicate with tactile LIS or some other way.