World In Sign, a deaf-owned company dedicated to supporting accessibility through innovation and technology, is on a mission to make a difference in the world.
We got the chance to sit down with Robert Mather, Co-Founder and Chief Legal Officer, and Adeline Aileo, Executive Director, to learn more about World In Sign, what they’re working to achieve, and the lessons they’ve learned along the way.
Can you tell us a bit about World In Sign?
“At its core, World In Sign is all about telecommunication accessibility services and products,” explains Mather. “We offer direct visual communication solutions, from professional remote sign language interpreting services to online event accessibility management as well as a platform for direct video calls and customer service.”
He adds, “We also offer closed captioning services and have a studio where we work with organizations to make their content more accessible. Beyond that, we’re working on an eCommerce platform to sell accessible products and are developing an SMS service for people who are deaf or hard of hearing and who lack access to voice-based calls and services, as well as conducting R&D to help improve the educational experience for visual learners.”
How did World In Sign come to be?
“Back in April 2019, we saw a great need for better accessibility solutions,” says Mather. “As deaf people, we knew that, even if accessibility was getting better, there were still issues.”
He elaborates, “Often, accessibility providers only deal with one facet of the bigger picture, whether it’s interpreters or closed captioning or any of the other components. This means that organizations that want to prioritize accessibility have to find and subcontract a number of different partners, making it harder and more expensive. Many organizations don’t even know where to start.”
Mather, who spent much of his career with the Department of Justice working on the American Disabilities Act, invisions World In Sign as a one-stop-shop for accessibility.
“Our mission was to fill that gap,” explains Mather. “We wanted to make accessibility more accessible in terms of reducing costs and centralizing services.”
What are the most rewarding aspects of your work?
“I love having the opportunity to change the way we communicate,” says Aileo. “Because in many situations, there simply was no successful communication. For instance, for those who are deaf, education can be challenging–they lack the dual entry of hearing and vision so they often miss things during presentations or lectures with audio and visual components. It’s like trying to watch two screens at once. And we’re able to find ways to provide a better experience, both in the classroom and remotely.”
She adds, “It’s also rewarding sharing knowledge and getting people to understand the challenges that so many face. It helps give them a new perspective.”
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned since World In Sign launched?
“To launch a startup, you need to be a good businessman and figure out what you want to do,” shares Mather. “You need to sit down and clarify your vision. It requires a lot of strength and energy to start a business. It’s a new experience for me.”
He adds, “Adaptability is also incredibly important. Our company has evolved over the last two years and right now we’re reworking our business plan to adapt to new changes. In business, challenges will arise, you’ll be forced to adapt, and when you do, you need to go back to that original vision to decide how to proceed. Change is painful but it’s necessary in many instances to make things better.”
It’s also vital to understand what makes your business unique.
“You need to think about what makes your organization different,” says Aileo. “You need to decide how you’ll get yourself in a position of differentiation. And that’s something we’ve really focused on and found an answer to.”
What do you want people to know about accessibility?
“Accessibility is not what you think,” Aileo shared. “To fully understand, you need to look deeper. It’s important to make sure your business is truly accessible. It’s not one-size-fits-all.”
Mather agrees wholeheartedly on this front.
“Accessibility is for everyone,” he says. “It’s not just for targeted audiences that you’re not part of.”
He continues, “Text messaging was originally created to help people who are deaf and hard of hearing to communicate and now it’s used globally everyday. Audiobooks were made for the blind and now people listen to them in all kinds of different situations. Accessibility might start with a targeted group but it can have broad applications for everyone.”
How did you end up at Launch Workplaces? What has your experience been like?
“Our team works remotely,” explains Mather. “So, I needed to find a local space to work from. That’s how I ended up at Launch. It’s really a wonderful place for businesses, especially start-ups. They provide a lot of support services for companies like us, and that’s very important to us. All their extra services help make our lives a lot easier.”
If you’d like to learn more about how World In Sign and what they do, visit them online.
And if you’d like to learn about our flexible office services or to book a tour of one of our Launch Workplaces locations, contact us today. Our team is here to help and answer any questions you might have.