The exploitation of sign language that occurred during the honorable Nelson Mandela’s memorial service was offensive to the international Deaf community and made headlines around the world. An app company, Livelens, took advantage of this situation to market their product in a commercial starring Thamsanqa Jantjie, the man known as “Fake Interpreter”. In this commercial, Jantjie is shown gesturing “I speak sign language not”, speaking alone on a podium, and dancing. No captions were provided by Livelens, thus intensifying the insult to the Deaf community by denying us access to what Jantjie was saying in the commercial.

By starring Jantjie in their commercial, Livelens gave this sign language interpreter impostor fame and poked fun at the very incident that outraged the Deaf community, making a mockery of our right to sign language accessibility. The exploitation of sign language is not a gimmick.

Convo joins others in calling for the immediate end of this commercial and for Livelens to issue a public apology to the Deaf community.


Through Convo Mobile

April 2nd, 2014

Imagine a world where we can create sculptures and artworks that last through time. A world where we can run a business in a booming city and serve gourmet cuisine recognized by international experts. A world where we can design technology for our own community in our own way. A world where we can create our legacy through metal, through wood, through art, through food, and through Convo Mobile.

We’ve made a tradition of playing an April Fool’s joke the past three years, but this year we decided to go 100% real, because there are so many real stories we want to share instead… You can call it a reverse April Fool’s!

Yes, it’s for real: All the artwork in the commercial were made by Deaf artists!

Sculpture by Douglas Tilden in San Francisco

Wooden stand by Ron Trumble in Mozzeria

Linocut print by David Call in Mozzeria

There are rich stories in the world of Deaf art, and Mozzeria is covered with it. The narrow restaurant features artworks by five Deaf artists, two of whom are in our Talking About Art series, Bex and Nancy!

Yes, it’s for real: Mozzeria is a Deaf-owned restaurant recently recognized by a renowned organization for their authentic Napoletan pizzas!

Mozzeria is a successful restaurant in a busy district of San Francisco. The Deaf-owned and Deaf-run business has received certification from Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, making Mozzeria only the third restaurant in San Francisco and the only Deaf-owned pizzeria in the world with the AVPN seal. Their pies are considered “true Neapolitan pizzas”, and they sure are delicious! Read more about it here.

Yes, it’s for real: The new Convo Mobile app has the Maps feature!

It used to take more than one app and oh-so-many clicks to find a restaurant in a neighborhood and then to call for reservations, but now everything’s in one place. Search for a business in Convo Mobile and simply tap the green call button to connect right there. We are proud to introduce Maps to VRS.

Yes, it’s for real: The entire commercial was shot with an iPhone 5s with an entirely Deaf team!

The technology at our fingertips today is truly amazing. As it continues to advance, we will continue to explore how it can be to our benefit. We shot this entire commercial with an iPhone 5s with an entirely Deaf team. Convo Mobile was also 100% designed by a Deaf team. From making it even easier to connect to others from your phone to bringing you new commercials shot from our phones, technology has changed the way we live. We choose for that change to be for the better.

This is our world today.


So, Valentine’s Day is coming up. Are you….?

You don’t want to wake up on Friday and completely forget to do something romantic for your significant other

You can try to laugh it off

But this is what will happen

This is not the Valentine convo you wanna have

Let’s take a moment to think about the connection that we have with the people in our lives and genuinely appreciate them

That’s more like it!

It’s only logical to assume that what follows next will be

You did good!


“Hold on– it’s hard to see you.” is a phrase I have signed one too many times over video calls. But, how many of us realize that lighting can really improve this situation? It is true: bad lighting can completely ruin a video call. While the network connection may be beyond our control, lighting is not. The above vlog covers 5 tips to maximize the experience of your video calls from now on!

Want those tips in PDF? Download the  “5 ways to improve lighting for your video calls” tipsheet.


The Wedding – Behind the scenes

September 26th, 2013

Shooting Duff Goldman for our commercial was a real pleasure! Duff, who was the cake master in The Food Network’s reality show Ace of Cakes, instantaneously soothed any starstruck nerves some of us might have felt– especially Nicole, a Convo interpreter, who is a huge fan– with his easygoing vibe. He welcomed us in his West Coast bakery, Charm City Cakes, located on Melrose Ave in Los Angeles, and his staff made us feel like we were being greeted by friends.

Wayne and Nicole with Duff GoldmanDuff Goldman going over script with Wayne and Nicole

Turns out he was just as smooth on camera– not surprising, if you consider the 5 years he was on television. We didn’t need to coach his acting, which was a good thing because the entire team was occupied with their own tasks: Wayne and Jay were filming and maneuvering the camera movements while Leila and Nicole were standing in a corner, signing and interpreting the bride’s lines into Duff’s phone. With every take, Duff would surprise us with a new facial expression and word choice in his lines. Talk about giving us variety to work with!

The Wedding ConvoWayne working behind the scenes

When we came up with the commercial idea, it was a no-brainer to go with Duff. Not only is he big on supporting civil rights, he somehow found out about a lesbian couple who was denied a wedding cake from a local anti-gay cake shop. Unexpectedly, he made the cake for them at no cost whatsoever because no cake should be involved with any form of discrimination! Duff is also quite a personality, a lovable prankster, that we wanted to capture… and is evident in this bonus clip of him learning to sign: Duff Goldman learns ASL.

The icing of the cake was when Duff didn’t bat an eyelash when we asked if we could borrow one of his decorative cakes for the final scene in the commercial. “Have your pick,” he told us. When all was said and done, Duff looked at his phone, chuckled, and commented that he had to run down to get a brownie for his fiancee, who was threatening bodily harm if he came home empty-handed. Waving us good-bye, he got in his huge truck and pulled out of the driveway, presumably pranking his fiancee that the brownies were sold out.

If you missed the commercial, check it out below:


Talking about Art with Bex

September 3rd, 2013

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Bex Freund cultivated a love affair with oil painting at the age of seven and has been exhibiting since 2004.

In 2007, she moved to the Bay Area to earn her BFA at California College of the Arts.

In 2008, Bex worked as a prop/set fabrication intern for the Emmy award-winning series Robot Chicken, learning how to craft tiny worlds alongside Hollywood industry veterans.

More recently, Bex has spent the last two years working as a studio assistant for internationally exhibited painter Joshua Hagler in Berkeley. Her work has been exhibited at the de Young Museum of San Francisco and showcased on the popular entertainment weblog, Autostraddle.

Check her work out at

More about “Be you”