Case Study • 12 minute read





May - Aug 2021


Research, Visual, Animation




Sign language awareness is very low.

Despite the fact that there are an estimated 1.5 billion deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals worldwide, sign language awareness and education remains largely inadequate. This lack of access to sign language education can lead to a lack of communication and social isolation for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals and lack of understanding and inclusivity.

Problem 🧐

Lack of proper sign language learning app decreases interests.

This realization hit me while I was trying to learn the ASL. I realized that the existing apps in the App Store that teaches sign language are all hard to use and half-baked with crucial features missing.

Target Audience 🔍

Individuals looking to learn sign language in their spare time.

Study suggests that sign language awareness is inadequate— hence Signlingo aims to make sign language learning more accessible to everyone with a mobile phone.

Goals 🥅

Increase interest in learning sign language.

To provide an accessible, interactive, and engaging platform for individuals to learn sign language and increase sign language awareness and education.


Promote inclusivity for hard of hearing communities.

By making sign language education more accessible and widespread, I hope to promote communication, understanding, and inclusivity for the deaf and the hard of hearing communities .

The Solution

Enter, Signlingo.

Signlingo is a concept app that teaches sign language in a fun gamified experience. It utilizes machine learning to detect hand gesture, has a built-in sign dictionary, and has obtainable items to collect as users progress through their learning.

The Solution

Take mini lessons anywhere, anytime.

Low-effort, high reward. Study at your own pace, on your own terms. Start your lessons on the bus, or on your bed— it’s efficient.

Interactive Learning

Practice your gestures real-time with machine learning

By using a machine learning model that is able to recognize sign language in real-time, Signlingo makes the process of learning sign language more interactive and engaging for users.

Pocket Dictionary

Quickly look for specific words or alphabets

With a built-in sign language alphabet and dictionary, users can conveniently search and look for certain words whenever they need it.

Gamification System

With cute collectible items to keep users engaged

Tracks your learning progress and get rewarded with unique & cute collectible items that will keep you motivated to learn sign language.


The first thing I did was gain an empathic understanding of the people I was designing this for and analyze the problem I was trying to solve through observing and engaging to understand their experiences and motivations.

Personal Experience 😕

Lack of a complete sign language learning mobile app

I was looking for applications to study American Sign Language and found that Duolingo, the world’s most popular language learning app, does not have it. Then I resorted to using other application, however, I noticed immediately noticed that existing apps in the App Store that teaches sign language are all hard to use and half-baked with crucial features missing.

User Interviews 🕵🏻

Finding out key insights about sign language learners

Going online, I handed out a survey targeting people which uses digital resources as their main source of learning ASL. I asked questions mostly about their learning habits and complaints and from 20+ respondents, I found that:

• People mostly learn the ASL in their free time (averages around 30-60 minutes every day) ⏳
• Most people use their mobile phones to learn ASL 📱
• Most user says having a dictionary and alphabet often comes in handy in a pinch 👌🏼
• Video lessons and tutorials are very helpful in learning ASL ⏯️
• Most user states that digital lessons are too one-sided and can’t replicate offline tutor 👩🏻


With a clearer understanding of the landscape, I began defining the specificities of what my product needs to solve and formulated a problem statement and hypothesis.

Persona 🤓

Creating 2 personas to better understand the target audience

From there, I developed 2 personas based off my research. The reason I did 2 was because education apps are tailored to everyone from all spectrums— hence covering more grounds means a more accurate insight.

Problem Statement ⁉️

People want an interactive, engaging, and self-paced mobile application that they can use in their spare time to learn sign language.

Hypothesis 🤔

I believe that by creating an interactive and personalized sign language learning app, we can attract users to learn it and increase its awareness.


Now that the specificities of Signlingo are established, I began the creative process of generating ideas to find out which features will be beneficial to users.

Competitive Analysis 👀

Disassembling and leveraging existing products

There are plenty of apps in the App Store and in the web that teaches sign language. However, they do a lackluster job in creating a system that tracks users' learning progress to keep them learning. Most only have barebone features which only promotes one-sided learning that is non-interactive and non-engaging. Additionally, some of these products are delivered in a traditional format that is time intensive and not flexible.

Feature Brainstorming 🧠

Which features should we prioritize?

It was time for me to formulate a solution. I did another round of interviews to determine what features would be beneficial to users. I listed the features and asked them to prioritize it based on order of importance and asked if they could come up with any other features not mentioned that they think could be useful.

An insight that I found interesting and surprising is that 72% respondents said that they prefer to not have a social hub in which they can connect and/or compete with friends. When asked why, most of them stated that they don't want learning to be a competition with their peers as it can demotivate them— they prefer a more personal and intimate experience.

Key Insights 🔑

A list of things to avoid moving forward

With this in mind, I made a note listing the things I should avoid when designing this app:

1. Avoid designing features that are not inclusive for users with different abilities or disabilities. For example, using only text-based instruction and not including visual or audio cues.
2. Avoid designing features that are not interactive enough. Learning sign language requires practice and repetition, so it's important to design features that allow users to practice signing in an engaging way.
3. Avoid designing features that are too complex or difficult to use. The app should be easy to navigate and understand, even for users with no prior experience with sign language.
4. Avoid designing features that are not personalized. Different users may have different learning styles and needs, so it's important to design features that can be tailored to each user's preferences.
5. Avoid designing features that encourages a competitive environment. Users don't want learning to be a competition with their peers as it can demotivate them.


Onto Figma and beyond!

Styleguide 🎨
Lo-Fi Wireframes 📐
Hi-Fi Wireframes 💎
Interactions ▶️

With the prototype finished, I began to validate my design to other people to see if there is any room of improvement and to see what went right or wrong.

Feedback Session 👥

A feedback from Duolingo’s UX Designer 🦉

I reached out to the super talented Charlotte Chen, who is working at Duolingo as a UX Designer, for a feedback session. I was fortunate that she agreed to do it and got the opportunity to hop into a quick coffee chat ☕️ to go over a quick feedback session about this project. She made a lot of insightful feedbacks, such as:
1. It’s better to use real life images and videos for the lessons as it is easier to distinguish and remember.
2. The gamification system and rewards might be too vague and unrelated to the product.
3. The machine learning hand gesture detection is very useful to be able to practice the gestures with first-hand experience— makes the app feel much more dynamic and interactive.

Key Takeaways - Engagement

Interactivity and engagement is the key to make a good education app

Through user research and testing, it became clear that interactive and engaging features are crucial to create a good education app. Features like the Machine Learning camera detection and gamification system contributed to making the app more engaging for the users, meaning that they are more likely to keep learning.

Key Takeaways - Personalization

Online learning apps are popular because they are self-paced and personalized.

Users reported that they would like an app that can adapt to their schedule and learning style. The app should provide a personalized experience that is tailored to their needs. This can be done by providing adaptive features, like personalized practice sessions and progress tracking.

You’ve reached the end. Thank you for reading!