Dublin student develops app to help non-English speakers

Padraig Conlon 15 Feb 2021

Diane Hrisovescu, a student at Larkin Community College has used her own family’s experience to make Irish government forms and information more accessible for the over 600,000 residents living here who don’t use English as a first language.

Her creation, SoWe, a user-friendly app, will decrease delays for people filling out and submitting Government forms and prevent submissions that are either incomplete or incorrect.

This practical tool was inspired by the struggles faced by Diane’s own family and those of several others in her community.

Due to the need for all Irish residents to understand and follow government and public health advice during the pandemic, Diane says it has never been more important to ensure language inclusivity.

Developing her app further in the months ahead, the Leaving Certificate student hopes SoWe will make life easier for non-English speakers who face challenges in accessing and understanding Government information.

Diane is a participant in Teen-Turn, a mentoring program for female students supported by Hays Recruiting.

The program strives to provide teen girls with the opportunity to gain hands-on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) experience and helps them to prepare for third level education.

Teen-Turn does so by providing pathways and grinds for young girls, teaching them how to create mobile apps and business plans, and linking them with some of Ireland’s most innovative companies.

Reflecting on her research, Diane said:

“With the support of Teen-Turn, I developed a passion for science and technology.

“I am so grateful for the recognition of my app, ‘SoWe’ at Teen-Turn’s SciFest.

“During my time with Teen-Turn, I came to appreciate the different career choices in the area of STEM.

“I used the skills I learned while working with my mentors and the experience of my own family to develop my app to enhance language inclusivity in Ireland.

“Ireland is a mixing bowl of languages and nationalities and I believe we can do so much more to improve access to and understanding of government information for all our residents, especially during the pandemic.”

Despite the health crisis, Teen-Turn, partnered with Hays Recruiting, has continued mentoring teenage girls from underserved areas and communities.

The project has enabled participants across Dublin to gain experience in STEM and in December, hosted SciFest.

Partaking in the 12-week Project Squad programme, Diane exhibited her work and showcased her app idea to address a problem she saw in everyday life – language inclusivity.

Since its foundation five years ago Teen-Turn has worked with over 700 girls to tackle the low number of women from underserved areas and communities who are attaining third level qualifications in STEM.

Teenagers are given hands-on experience, they are assigned invested mentors and provided with career development opportunities.

Teen-Turn is taking part in Technovation in 2021, a programme that challenges girls in secondary level education to build a business plan and mobile app that will address a community problem.

Girls taking part will be supported through this process and taking part is free of charge.

Those interested should visit teen-turn.com or email contact@teen-turn.com.

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