As a deaf person, have you ever found yourself as the only deaf person at a family dinner with no way to understand what’s going on? Sometimes as a family member, friend, co-worker, you find them wanting to connect with you but they don’t know where to hire an ASL interpreter to facilitate communication. As well as with the concern of the quality of the ASL interpreter. My father is deaf and oftentimes, group discussions are difficult for him to follow along with because nobody in his immediate family is fluent in ASL. So my father and I decided to come up with a possible solution that led to the development of the App MyGroup application. My father now can use this app so that he can use an interpreter when he needs one for family or casual settings. App MyGroup helps hearing people communicate clearly with deaf friends and/or family members. This app is not for medical or legal use. We only use Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) certified interpreters in our network. The interpreters are paid through the app when the job is completed.

a older man sitting on a couch using american sign language

This app could greatly benefit those with hearing family members, friends, coworkers of a deaf person; CODAs (child of deaf adults) who want to have a professional interpreter; or those who know some ASL but do not have the advanced level for in-depth conversations. For example, Gerald Isobe, shared his experience using App MyGroup to connect with his daughter-in-law about her father passing away. He was able to get an interpreter in only 10 minutes through the app and have a 20-minute discussion with her. In his words, “it was better to get the information directly through a professional ASL interpreter, instead of having to ask my son, daughter, or wife what happened. “When faced with the need of an interpreter in the workplace; such as the interpreter cancels at the last minute or does not show up, this could become a benefit for the consumer and the accessibility coordinator to provide service(s). As well as when an impromptu group meeting occurs. When a manager or a workplace interviews a deaf employee and is interested in hiring them; but the use of this application could provide an idea of how the day-to-day communications would appear or would provide a benefit without the required in-person interpreter by having this accessibility. When a deaf employee has a co-worker stop by their desk and wants to chat right way unannounced as well as in the lunch or break room.

image of Brandon Isobe

Brandon Isobe co-developed App MyGroup with his father, Gerald Isobe (deaf hall of fame golfer), graduated from the University of Rochester, and currently lives and works in San Francisco for an information technology company. More information and videos are on his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/appmygroup