Meet our Nordic Fellow Dennis Lennartsson
Through the European Sign Language Center (ESLC), Dennis responds to the lack of a vital enterprise that can serve, connect and expand the number of sign language users.
His Changemaker journey
Dennis has a passion for creating a world where all people have the right to communicate. Growing up with a hard of hearing brother, Dennis has engaged with the deaf world from a young age. Indeed, Dennis continued to grow his interest in and knowledge of the language and culture. After finishing high school, Dennis studied sign language for five years to become an interpreter.
Dennis is elevating sign language to serve a richer purpose in society by addressing the needs of individuals and communities across geographies and sectors.
Continuing to follow his passion for all forms of communication, he applied to photography school and launched an advertising agency. Throughout his experience in the advertising industry, he kept one foot in the deaf world—volunteering as an interpreter. After nearly a decade as an entrepreneur in the communications and advertising field, Dennis felt the need to return to his work with sign language full-time—and in a bigger way, in order to impact more people. In 2005 Spread the Sign was launched as a dictionary of signs from around the world.
ESLC is a non-profit organization, working for making sign language available all over the world. Since 2006 ESLC has documented more than 400.000 words in sign language and is active in more than 35 countries.
ESLC aim is to document the different sign languages across the world and make it available through the web-based computer tool: www.spreadthesign.com.
Spread the sign is an international dictionary that aims to make all sign languages of the world accessible. This pedagogic self-learning tool is free to use for everyone in the world.
Thus, the organization gives every sign language´ user the tools needed to learn to read and write, changing the face of sign language by making it accessible, free for all and legitimized as a language.
In the beginning, the project was created with the aim of improving the language skills of vocational students when going abroad for work practice. Between the years 2006 and 2010 Spread the sign uploaded words and videos from several vocational fields into the dictionary. In 2012 Spread the sign improved the functionality and added more languages as well as more words within each language. Spread the sign then also introduced more sentences and not only single words/signs.
Between 2012 and 2015 Spread the sign inserted even more content to our database as a free web tool - 15 000 signs/words per language. It also added images to some words. Between 2015 and 2018 Spread the sign made a new website with new functionality, for example, a map function, adding more languages as well.
Spread the sign helps thousands of people every day to find the sign they are searching for. In addition, it is also available as apps for smartphones and tablets with the name 'Spread signs'.