Huawei and FCB launch campaign to help deaf children learn to read

Huawei has worked with FCB Inferno on its Christmas campaign that aims to help deaf children learn to read.

At the heart of the activity is an app called StorySign, which translates words on a page into sign language using an ‘avatar’ (created by Aardman Animations, the makers of Wallace and Grommit) which appears on the phone screen. As a child, or parent, holds their phone over a book’s words, the avatar will sign the story, allowing parents and children to learn to read together, and at their own pace.

Speaking to The Drum, Huawei’s CMO for Western Europe, Andrew Garrihy, said this is just the start of what it’s hoping to do with the technology.

“As a brand our mission is to use technology to extend what is humanly possible. In service of that we’re constantly looking for opportunities where tech can make a meaningful difference,” he said.

“Long-term, we want to do more books [the first phase is in partnership with publisher Penguin] and build a database of languages so that ultimately, one day, people can use it as a real-time [sign] translator across many different books and many different languages. That’s the long-term vision; this is just the first step.”

To promote the app, FCB Inferno and production firm Dog Eat Dog have developed an ad campaign directed by Chris Overton, maker of the critically acclaimed film The Silent Child.

The advert stars seven-year-old actress Maisie Sly as a young girl struggling to read with her father on Christmas Eve. Later that night when she sneaks downstairs to peek at her presents, she sees Santa who hands her a book for a gift. Upon realising that the little girl is deaf, Santa begins to sign the book to her.

“This film was a real pleasure to direct, I think it’s a really cool concept and it’s always fun to work with Maisie and Rachel. We actually said we’d love to see Maisie in a Christmas film this year - so it’s amazing that it’s happened and that we were all together again” said Overton.

“Hats off to Huawei on creating a tool that will allow children with hearing problems explore the wonderful world of literacy.”

The campaign will run across Western European campaign on cinema, TV, and digital. The brand is also investing in influencer marketing, challenging vloggers, bloggers and other social signs that are part of a Christmas song in the hopes of raising awareness of the app as well as the brand’s charity partners, the European Union of the Deaf including the British Deaf Association.

“StorySign is not just another Christmas campaign, it’s an initiative that we genuinely hope will help deaf children enjoy the world of books” said Frazer Gibney, chief executive, FCB Inferno. ‘Huawei’s technology is empowering great things, and I am thrilled that we are working with them on work that is both purposeful and creatively interesting.”

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