The former professional rugby player and Strictly Come Dancing star has praised Huawei’s sign language translation app StorySign while speaking out about his own clinical deafness.

For the approximately 32 million deaf children around the globe, learning to read is an extremely challenging task, often leading them to miss out on an essential part of their education and life experience. As they can’t match words with sound, listen to their parents read them a bedtime story, or hear a teacher repeat sentences, it’s exceedingly difficult for deaf children to enjoy reading as any child should.

To combat this issue, Huawei have developed a pioneering new application that translates the written word into sign language, helping to open the beautiful world of books for deaf children across the globe. Used in conjunction with a smartphone and a physical book, StorySign translates a featured book into sign language page by page, delivering an unprecedented reading aid that takes advantage of modern AI technology.

Rugby star and former Strictly contestant Ben Cohen has been working alongside Huawei to promote their StorySign app and campaign. To celebrate the addition of popular children’s book The Lonely Penguin to their library, Ben Cohen visited London’s Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children to show the kids how to use StorySign and treat them to a story-time session like no other.

Cohen himself is clinically deaf and suffers with tinnitus, having struggled with the condition throughout his life. Amazingly, he kept his deafness under wraps while competing on Strictly Come Dancing in 2013, revealing only recently that he relied on his dance partner to squeeze his palm and nod to help him keep in time. As someone who knows firsthand the struggles that hearing difficulties present, Ben Cohen was perfectly matched to work with Huawei on this commendable campaign.


“I love the way Huawei are using the Story Sign apps on their phones to make it fun and help children to read and interact.”

Ben Cohen, speaking to The Daily Express
MN2S represents Ben Cohen and 2301 other Talent. View artist bio

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