Published on 11 October 2021

When disability drives innovation: Rogervoice case study

Olivier Jeannel launched the Rogervoice app to facilitate telephone communications for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Available in multiple languages, conversations are automatically close captioned with the app. Since then, Olivier Jeannel has extended the Rogervoice service for people who are deaf and blind, so their conversation can be transcribed into Braille while the response is vocalized. The text to speech functionality also enables people with speech disorders (mutism, aphasia, stuttering, etc.) to make and receive calls. Discover more about this great entrepreneurial adventure where disability, creativity and determination are a source of innovation.

 

How the project started

Olivier Jeannel has been profoundly deaf since the age of two. To communicate, he wears a hearing aid and lip-reads, but he always had trouble with phone conversations. “The phone has no lips,” he jokes. He became interested in voice recognition technologies as they were developing quickly, especially with Artificial Intelligence, which makes it possible to offer tailor-made services as needed. Hence, he launched the Rogervoice project. He immediately set up a feasibility study to test and validate a voice recognition solution that could transcribe a conversation accurately and instantaneously. “The first thing we had to do was test it out. Being deaf myself, I understood the requirements,” he says. The first tests were conclusive, so he launched a crowdfunder campaign to raise the necessary funds and increase visibility. The solution attracted great interest and the campaign collected double the funds initially set, which enabled him to develop the first version of his application.

Olivier Jeannel

 

A success that promotes entrepreneurship and inclusion

Rogervoice has since met with great success – around 2 million calls have been made more accessible and, since 2018, it has been extended so all French operators are offering the service to their customers. Over and above the numbers, Olivier Jeannel is delighted with the comments he receives that demonstrate the relevance of his solution. “Relief, freedom ... Many users thank us because Rogervoice means they’re no longer dependent on others and so they can live a more fulfilling personal and professional life,” he says. The app meets the needs of individuals but also companies, as they can promote inclusion to employees with hearing difficulties.
There are four deaf people working on the Rogervoice team and so they also use their app at work, whether for phone conversations or video meetings. “This is where digital technology, which can sometimes be a source of exclusion for people with disabilities, is a tremendous enabler, through the development of simple and innovative solutions that make their daily lives easier,” he explains.
n the business world, this type of innovation prompts people to think and design their products and services differently, so they can improve diversity and attract people coming from a range of experiences and backgrounds. For Olivier Jeannel, diversity must always be seen as an advantage and encourage entrepreneurship.

Don’t hesitate to start a business, disability is not a roadblock. On the contrary, it’s a way of seeing projects from a different angle. Go ahead: you can't reach the top without taking the first step !

Olivier Jeannel, CEO and founder
 

2 million
conversations since the launch of the Rogervoice app
In the top 20 French apps on the App Store
App available in 52 countries
More than 500,000 people in France have trouble using their phone due to hearing difficulties
 

 

Rogervoice: when disability drives innovation