KPN makes meetings more accessible for the deaf with Speaksee

KPN adds the Microphone Kit Speaksee to its business portfolio. The innovative technology helps deaf and those hard of hearing to have group discussions and offers employers the opportunity to increase inclusivity in the workplace. KPN has tested Speaksee extensively, equipped its offices with it, and several employees use it on a daily basis.

There are 1.5 million people who are deaf or hard of hearing in the Netherlands. They experience how difficult it can be to follow group conversations every day. Not being able to follow a story or missing the joke, it makes you feel out of place. Speaksee is the first microphone system that converts speech to text in real time through speech recognition based on artificial intelligence. With the Speaksee Microphone Kit, the deaf and hard of hearing can participate in group discussions. The text is displayed per conversation partner in colored speech bubbles via the Speaksee app, which can be used on various devices. Because the microphones filter out background noise, the speech recognition is up to 95 percent accurate. It is also possible to translate speech directly into another language.

Ronald Nieuwenhuis, responsible for Inclusivity & Social Enterprise at KPN: “Speaksee offers deaf and hard-of-hearing people the opportunity to participate fully at work. Meetings, consultations and lunch breaks become more accessible with the microphone kit and foster a sense of belonging. This innovative application suits our company in which we stand for a connected society, in which everyone – inside or outside KPN – is self-reliant and can participate.”

Participate in group discussions
Jari Hazelebach, CEO and co-founder of Speaksee: “Both my parents are deaf. That’s why I know how incredibly difficult it is for deaf and hard-of-hearing people to follow group discussions. It can make you feel like you don’t belong. I am therefore incredibly proud that we are now officially launching Speaksee and allowing deaf and hard-of-hearing people to participate in group discussions.”

Five years ago, Hazelebach and partner Marcel van der Ven started developing Speaksee. In 2018, they launched a crowdfunding campaign to develop the product into what it is today. Two hundred deaf and hard-of-hearing people in the Netherlands have already been able to use Speaksee. Hazelebach continues: “With those experiences, we have been able to further improve Speaksee into a product that is ready to make a big difference.”