A 17-year-old teen girl developed a sign language app for deaf children


We all know that previous quarantine time was hard for some people. But Mariella Satow, a 17-year-old teen girl used that time productively by changing lives.


She has dual citizenship in two countries. US and UK. At the beginning of the covid pandemic, she used to be in New York. Like every child in the world, she has online classes in the early morning. 


And she got a huge amount of free time after these classes. She used this free time productively by learning ASL (American Sign Language). 


Then her mind cracked something that, using a sign language interpreter (especially ASL) could help her learn much more faster.

Then she realized that streaming platforms didn’t provide ASL interpreters for deaf ones. And that’s the turning point that occurred!


Kids love to watch Disney and Many adults also secretly do.

But not every kid can enjoy watching Disney as every other kid does.

Kids with disabilities like deafness can’t understand what the characters are saying in the programs without subtitles, they will also face difficulties understanding subtitles as they pass so quickly.

That’s where the idea of Mariella Satow really going to make the childhood of many kids wholesome. 


She decided to develop an app that interprets American Sign Language just by using a chrome extension feature.

A 17-year-old teen girl developed a sign language app for deaf children
Mariella Satow


She believed that majority of the children watch Disney+. So Mariella targeted her initial focus on Disney+.


Mariella said that “Me and my sister were avid movie watchers when we were younger, and I couldn’t imagine that not being a part of our childhood.”


She created the Chrome Extention called SignUp by seeking help from different sign language teachers.


She said, “I can’t believe how big it’s become. I had no idea what I was launching into the universe.”

“My original vision for SignUp was as a learning tool for students of American Sign Language, like me. Normally, I learn languages by watching television shows with captions, but I found nothing similar for ASL.”

“With more research, I discovered that SignUp could benefit the Deaf community, especially children. The fact that 4 in 5 children who sign have reading difficulties shocked me, and I realized that most mainstream media would be inaccessible as it has written captions.

I was an avid movie watcher as a child, and want everyone to be able to have the same experience. My favorite movie is ‘The Incredibles’!”

Kids watching Disney Movies with SignUp sign language app

Dad Jarod Mills said this platform changed the way his son with hearing disabilities experience movies,

“Seeing my son be able to sit and understand the movie and see things he’s not seen before in eight years, it’s amazing,” he said. “We have captions but they don’t really do anything for him because it goes quite fast. He would just watch and not get much from it.”

“Kids are getting that understanding and information like any hearing child does — they learn a language even before they go to school,” He added.


Mariella created a GoFundMe page so that she can help every deaf child in the world by integrating more international sign languages. Her dream is to make all TV shows and movies “more accessible” for the deaf community. Lets share this story to help her reach SignUp to more people.


She says,

“The most meaningful comments are when it’s the first time a child has had full access to a movie, the numbers don’t really matter, it’s the messages.”


It’s great to see teenagers like Mariella coming up with ideas that help a lot of people and utilizing their time in a way that is useful to society.



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