+
upworthy
Inclusivity

A 17-year-old created a free app that makes Disney+ films more accessible for deaf children

asl, deaf, sign language, disney, signup

Mariella Satow, 17, spent her pandemic down time creating a signing app for children's films.

Subtitles and closed captions make it possible for deaf people to enjoy films and television shows—but what about little kids who can't read yet, or whose reading isn't fast enough to keep up with the captions? How does a deaf child fully appreciate a children's movie if they can't understand what any of the characters are saying and can't read the captions?

Mariella Satow ran into that question when she was teaching herself American Sign Language.

According to the BBC, 17-year-old Satow wanted to watch TV shows with sign language interpretation to help her learn ASL, but found very few that included signing. At first, that was the problem she wanted to solve, but as she learned more about deaf children, she realized an app that included sign language interpretation for kids' movies could also fill a gap in the deaf community.

"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 told BBC's Newsbeat.

Satow has dual citizenship in the U.S. and the U.K. and had been attending high school in England, but when she got stuck in New York during the summer of 2020 due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, she used the pandemic downtime—and her $3000 savings from dog walking—to create an app. It took her a year to develop the technology, and with the help of the deaf community and ASL teachers, the SignUp app was born.


SignUp is a free Google Chrome extension that provides sign language captioning over Disney+ videos. It puts a small box with a sign language interpreter in the corner of the screen while the movie plays—a surprisingly simple solution to the problem of kids not being able to hear or read captions.

"I think accessibility is so important, in general, and this seems like quite a basic need," Satow told Sag Harbor Express. "So many comments have been, 'I can't believe this didn't exist before,' which is surprising, I thought, because it is so needed."

Testimonials on the SignUp website speak to how much this app means to deaf kids and their parents.

"We watched 'Moana' on Thursday night, with the SignUp interpreter on. My six-year-old daughter's face was priceless. She LOVED it. She's not reading yet, so captions don't mean anything. It was the first time she's had full access to a movie. Thank you thank you!!" — Karli H.

"SignUp is simply amazing. My son was born deaf and until recently, captions did nothing for him. He is only 8, so often captions are still way too fast. SignUp provides full access to movies he loves and now he loves them even more! We are so thrilled to finally have full access! This is true equality!" — Jarod Mills

"Thank you so much for developing SignUp! My daughter is Deaf, and can't read, and this provides her with the ability to enjoy movies via her native language of ASL." — Will B.

"The most meaningful comments are when it's the first time a child has had full access to a movie," Satow told the BBC. "The numbers don't really matter, it's the messages."

Right now, the app is only available for a handful of Disney+ videos. Satow thought the site was a good place to start to have the most impact for kids, but she now has requests to add hundreds more films to the app and is planning a British Sign Language version of the app.

"There are more than 300 sign languages used worldwide, so it'll take a long time to get all of those versions out," she said.

Here's how to get the extension and use it to launch signing captions:

Satow has been sustaining SignUp as a free app with her dog-walking money, but the site has reached a point where more resources are needed for advertising and expanding to other platforms such as Netflix and Hulu. She launched a GoFundMe, which you can find here. (As of this writing, she had raised $3500 of the $10,000 she hopes to raise. Let's support her and get that up a bit, shall we?)

Satow is surprised but thrilled with the reception SignUp has gotten.

"I'm glad I could fill the gap in the small way I can," Satow told Sag Harbor Express. "I hope it sparks a movement of ASL captioning on everything."

What an awesome example of seeing a need and taking the initiative to meet it. Well done, Ms. Satow.

Family

Dad takes 7-week paternity leave after his second child is born and is stunned by the results

"These past seven weeks really opened up my eyes on how the household has actually ran, and 110% of that is because of my wife."

@ustheremingtons/TikTok

There's a lot to be gleaned from this.

Participating in paternity leave offers fathers so much more than an opportunity to bond with their new kids. It also allows them to help around the house and take on domestic responsibilities that many new mothers have to face alone…while also tending to a newborn.

All in all, it enables couples to handle the daunting new chapter as a team, making it less stressful on both parties. Or at least equally stressful on both parties. Democracy!

TikTok creator and dad Caleb Remington, from the popular account @ustheremingtons, confesses that for baby number one, he wasn’t able to take a “single day of paternity leave.”

This time around, for baby number two, Remington had the privilege of taking seven weeks off (to be clear—his employer offered four weeks, and he used an additional three weeks of PTO).

The time off changed Remington’s entire outlook on parenting, and his insights are something all parents could probably use.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Nazis demanded to know if ‘The Hobbit’ author was Jewish. He responded with a high-class burn.

J.R.R. Tolkien hated Nazi “race doctrine” and no problem telling his German publishing house about it.

In 1933, Adolf Hitler handed the power of Jewish cultural life in Nazi Germany to his chief propagandist, Joseph Goebbels. Goebbels established a team of of regulators that would oversee the works of Jewish artists in film, theater, music, fine arts, literature, broadcasting, and the press.

Goebbels' new regulations essentially eliminated Jewish people from participating in mainstream German cultural activities by requiring them to have a license to do so.

This attempt by the Nazis to purge Germany of any culture that wasn't Aryan in origin led to the questioning of artists from outside the country.

Nazi book burning via Wikimedia Commons

In 1938, English author J. R. R. Tolkien and his British publisher, Stanley Unwin, opened talks with Rütten & Loening, a Berlin-based publishing house, about a German translation of his recently-published hit novel, "The Hobbit."

Keep ReadingShow less

Christine Kesteloo has one big problem living on a cruise ship.

A lot of folks would love to trade lives with Christine Kesteloo. Her husband is the Chief Engineer on a cruise ship, so she gets to live on the boat pretty much for free as the “wife on board.” For Christine, life is a lot like living on a permanent vacation.

“I live on a cruise ship for half the year with my husband, and it's often as glamorous as it sounds,” she told Insider. “After all, I don't cook, clean, make my bed, do laundry or pay for food.“

Living an all-inclusive lifestyle seems like paradise, but it has some drawbacks. Having access to all-you-can-eat food all day long can really have an effect on one’s waistline. Kesteloo admits that living on a cruise ship takes a lot of self-discipline because the temptation is always right under her nose.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

Artists got fed up with these 'anti-homeless spikes.' So they made them a bit more ... comfy.

"Our moral compass is skewed if we think things like this are acceptable."

Photo courtesy of CC BY-ND, Immo Klink and Marco Godoy

Spikes line the concrete to prevent sleeping.


These are called "anti-homeless spikes." They're about as friendly as they sound.

As you may have guessed, they're intended to deter people who are homeless from sitting or sleeping on that concrete step. And yeah, they're pretty awful.

The spikes are a prime example of how cities design spaces to keep homeless people away.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

13 comics use 'science' to hilariously illustrate the frustrations of parenting.

"Newton's First Law of Parenting: A child at rest will remain at rest ... until you need your iPad back."

All images by Jessica Ziegler

Kids grab everywhere.


Norine Dworkin-McDaniel's son came home from school one day talking about Newton's first law of motion.

He had just learned it at school, her son explained as they sat around the dinner table one night. It was the idea that "an object at rest will remain at rest until acted on by an external force."

"It struck me that it sounded an awful lot like him and his video games," she joked.

Keep ReadingShow less

When the attack on Pearl Harbor began, Doris "Dorie" Miller was working laundry duty on the USS West Virginia.

He'd enlisted in the Navy at age 19 to explore life outside of Waco, Texas, and to make some extra money for his family. But the Navy was segregated at the time, so Miller, an African-American, and other sailors of color like him weren't allowed to serve in combat positions. Instead, they worked as cooks, stewards, cabin boys, and mess attendants. They received no weapons training and were prohibited from firing guns.

Keep ReadingShow less