A start-up app that reaches more than 1.3 million sign language learners worldwide
- Lingvano App
- Country of Implementation
- Start Year
- First published
“My daughter is dating a deaf person whom we adore and want to communicate with.” Tori, a Lingvano user
Lingvano is an Austrian start-up founded in 2018 that develops a mobile app to learn sign languages remotely. The engaging courses teach American, Austrian, and British Sign Language through instructional videos, quizzes, and features such as a mirror tool or a dictionary. Self-funded by the income from a subscription model, Lingvano aims to constantly increase quality and user numbers, and it plans to include other sign languages going forward. Between 2018 and 2023, Lingvano reached more than 1.3 million users globally.
Deaf and hard of hearing persons often experience exclusion due to the widespread lack of sign language knowledge among the general public.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
Lingvano consists of an international team with varying hearing statuses, but all sign language instructors are deaf native signers. Nonetheless, there is no communication gap as all employees know or learn how to sign. They have developed their own unique teaching methods, which are offered in the form of a smartphone app. The Lingvano App allows users to build sign language skills at their own pace through video lessons, vocabulary quizzes, and lookup tools. It adapts content to each sign language offered, considering individual grammar, signs, and regional peculiarities. Signing can be checked with the mirror feature, which enables the learners to watch their own movements and to correct them if necessary. Moreover, there is a curriculum quality assurance by deaf experts that provide inclusive instructions. In 2023, Lingvano launched a B2B programme targeting professionals in health, education, customer service, and tourism sectors to enhance their communication skills. Between 2018 and 2023 the user count for Austrian Sign Language grew from 170 to 10,000. American Sign Language was introduced in 2020 and has expanded from 53,000 that year to 1.06 million in October 2023. British Sign Language followed suit in the spring of 2022 and reached 81,400 users by the end of the year. As of October 2023, Lingvano had some 211,000 users.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
Lingvano is self-funded through user subscriptions, with no external investors or advertorial revenues at this time. It is in the process of expanding its B2B services for institutions and companies, and is hiring more deaf professionals to deal with increased demand. Lingvano’s standardization allows for expansion into new sign languages while being able to cater to local needs. (Awardee 2024)