Tell us about your career background and how you came to create your app Signlync?
After gaining a degree in Television and Production, I was looking forward to a career in the media world. Media seemed to tick a lot of boxes for me; having become Deaf at the tender age of one years old, I have always been a very visual person. When you lose one of your senses, your others become heightened. Unfortunately media wasn’t to be, the only place I was destined for in the eyes of my first employers was the warehouse. All they could see was what I wasn’t capable of, rather than my capabilities. Not only did the attitude of my employers hurt deeply, it dented my confidence too.
It was at that point in time that I decided to try my hand at teaching. I took the first step and became a Teaching Assistant at a London-based School for the Deaf. Although I absolutely loved working with the students, I faced adversity there too; discrimination played a key role in my pursuing a freelance career. On a positive note these negative experiences led to the laying of the foundations of what would become Signlync.
You left a career in teaching to set up your own business. What advice would you offer to aspiring entrepreneurs considering doing the same?
Do it… just do it!
For me, there is no greater sense of achievement than acknowledgement for making a difference to the lives of others; the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community deserve to be heard.
Surround yourself with good, honest guidance. I was extremely lucky to find all of those qualities, very early on, in one person. Having that one special mentor and guide believing that I could do whatever I put my mind to, gave me the confidence that I lacked growing up and in my early career.
Can you tell us more about Signlync and the work you’re doing within the Deaf community?
The Signlync app will be a safe and secure app that seamlessly connects the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community to British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters, Communication Support Workers, Note Takers etc. The app will break down barriers experienced by those co-ordinating an individual’s support needs, whilst helping to bring the community together by alleviating the feelings of exclusion and isolation.
Initially, to be able to use the Signlync app, you have to be either employed or self-employed, with an Access To Work budget. An important part of the app is the employer’s involvement in the process. Employers will have to be educated and informed. I have personally had to deal with a multi-billion dollar company, that had no concept of Deaf awareness and disability rights, this is exactly where Signlync will be needed. Signlync’s aim is to breakdown the barriers of communication, and to do that successfully we need to spread awareness and promote our abilities through professional networking. To help companies become more deaf aware we will be working alongside HR departments by providing a range of bespoke Deaf Awareness Workshops. Signlync is very fortunate to have the support and dedication of my HRcareers, as a leading company promoting all things HR, they have fully embraced Signlync’s ethos.
Gü wears The Camelot Dress in coral tweed.
One of your business objectives is to educate others about the challenges Deaf people face. What changes would you like to see society make to improve the daily lives of those with hearing disabilities?
I believe passionately that British Sign Language (BSL) should be taught from a young age, and I am dedicated to ensuring that every school throughout the country actively encourages the promotion of BSL. Children are incredibly accepting and have a remarkable capacity to pick up languages. By developing this bilingual environment from an early age, we can promote a more inclusive society where everyone is able to communicate, and develop stronger relationships between the deaf and hearing communities.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Be true to yourself and conduct yourself with integrity in everything you say and do. I have learnt the hard way, that without honesty and loyalty, words and actions mean nothing. Also whatever you do, don’t give up!
Gü wears The Camelot Dress in coral tweed.
You’re very active on social media. Can you offer any tips for growing your online presence?
Social Media has made a huge and positive difference to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. It connects people and encourages inclusion, rather than exclusion. For me, one of the most important elements is continuous engagement, by that I mean an exchange of sincere communication, and acknowledgement. If someone takes time to comment on a post the very least you can do is say thank you! Check out Eventbrite for events in London, network with groups relevant to your business and continuously post and share good quality, organic content.
How do you unwind outside of work?
As any budding entrepreneur will tell you, trying to unwind whilst establishing a new business is not an easy task. I do enjoy hitting the gym whenever I can, and eating as healthily as possible. Being based in Richmond upon Thames, I am fortunate to be able make the most of the park and the river. On Sunday’s I take a leisurely stroll along the river, before a Pilates session at Sweaty Betty, followed by brunch at No.1 Dukes St., with a spot of networking in between. Hearing people may find this strange, but I love being able to switch off when I take my hearing aids off at night. I am in my very own zen-temple; hearing people have to rely on yoga or mediation to able to experience the same feeling.
Tell us about your 9-5 wardrobe – what are your go-to outfits?
I am probably most comfortable in dark blue jeans, a crisp white shirt and a snug jacket. And I must admit, I am a bit of a shoeaholic.
And finally which is your favourite style in the Fold summer collection and why?
My absolute favourite piece in The Fold summer collection is the The Malone Jumpsuit! It’s just my style: sleek, sophisticated, modern and comfortable. I always believe when we are comfortable and feel good, we project a better image of ourselves. The Fold’s range helps me to project confidence and style.
Learn more: Signlync
Hair: Easton Regal
Photos: David Nyanzi