Azima Dhanjee, a Pakistani entrepreneur, co-founded ConnectHear, a platform that generates sign language interpreters and seeks to increase deaf accessibility and inclusion in Pakistan.

“During Covid, our number one focus was making information accessible in sign language. We knew there were so many press conferences happening and there were so many people affected by Covid but none of this information was interpreted in Pakistani sign language for the deaf community,” Azima said “So our number one goal was to create more content. We were all at home trying to get the message out. We interpreted for a lot of provincial government press conferences. We also had to adapt our interpreter classes to an online format.”

In 2020, Azima said the goal of her startup was to teach people sign language, which couldn’t be done physically due to Covid. In addition, ConnectHear held multiple live sessions, keeping the brand alive within the deaf community as well as spreading the vision of the company throughout the hearing community.

During the pandemic, ConnectHear partnered with telehealth providers, including Sehat Kahani, an organisation that provides health checkups and online visits for all. The relationship between both startups resulted in deaf patients being able to receive proper health feedback from their doctor with deaf interpreters facilitating the process along the way.

More recently, ConnectHear has launched a mobile application that allows deaf individuals to simply tap a button to reach a human deaf interpreter sitting at the ConnectHear headquarters, allowing the deaf community to easily speak to others at their convenience.  Especially for the Jamat, Azima said that her startup allowed for information concerning lockdowns and governmental regulation to easily spread to the deaf members of the community during Covid through sign language.

Technology may often seem to gamify our lives, as every step can be tracked and every heartbeat recorded. However, perhaps this digital world is more human than we think; although we may be physically distant, our conversations and connections can strengthen evermore.