Signer wins Rep. Anna Eshoo’s 2022 Congressional App Challenge in California’s 18th District

Rep. Anna Eshoo has named Adrit Rao, a 10th Grader at Palo Alto High School, as the winner of the 2022 Congressional App Challenge in California’s 18th District.

When asked what inspired the creation of Signer, the student said, ”According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), one in eight people in the United States (13 percent, or 30 million) aged 12 years or older have hearing loss in both ears. 430 million people around the world are deaf and in the United States alone 1 million people are deaf. People who are hard of hearing or deaf commonly rely on American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate with each other. In the US, only 500 thousand people know ASL, the majority being those who are deaf. Among those of hearing (not deaf), very few know or understand ASL. Deaf people face various challenges in their daily lives because of this sign language barrier.

I was inspired to create Signer after finding out about the communication struggles the deaf community face. Most deaf people rely on sign language to communicate because they cannot communicate audibly. Sign language can be used to communicate between deaf people but how do people who do not understand sign language communicate with the deaf community? Currently, there is no simplistic and efficient solution to this “sign language barrier” and many deaf and non-deaf people face daily difficulties because of this. I created Signer to help deaf people communicate with non-deaf people. Signer converts sign language (American Sign Language) into speech, it is almost like allowing the deaf community to voice their message to the non-deaf community. Using this app, I hope that communication can become better altogether and the language barrier can be alleviated.

During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I learned to develop iOS iPhone Apps. From there, I explored the world of AI and how it could make an impact. I currently have 5 apps on the App Store and plan to develop more. Through my apps, I aim to make a difference in the world by solving real-world problems.”

The Congressional App Challenge smashed previous participation records in 2022. All told, 9,011 students registered for this year’s competition – creating 2,707 fully-functioning apps for 335 Members of Congress across 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and the District of Columbia. This year’s competition set the record for most student registrations, most apps submitted, most apps per district submitted, and most districts receiving over 20 apps. The wildly successful competition continues to impress upon House Members the importance of computer science education and the need to develop a pipeline of diverse, domestic STEM talent. 

The Congressional App Challenge is an official initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Members of Congress host contests in their districts for middle school and high school students, encouraging them to learn to code and inspiring them to pursue careers in computer science. Each participating Member of Congress selects a winning app from their district, and each winning team is invited to showcase their winning app to Congress during our annual #HouseOfCode festival. The program is a public-private partnership made possible through funding from Omidyar Network, AWS, Rise, theCoderSchool, Apple, and others.

The 2023 Congressional App Challenge will launch in June of 2023, and eligible students can pre-register for the competition now.