The mobile interpreting service offers customer service in Finnish sign language
Our customers communicating in sign language have been able to communicate with our customer service in Finnish sign language through the Chabla app from 1 December 2023. Introducing the service is part of Finnair’s commitment to offer innovative solutions and improving accessibility of the customer experience.
As of 1 December 2023, Finnair's Finnish customer service introduced the Chabla mobile application, through which our Finnish customers using sign language can communicate in their mother tongue. With the mobile interpretation service, we enable smooth communication and ensure that all our customers get the help and support they need.
The mobile interpretation service was established to meet the need
Chabla was founded in 2016 by Finnish sign language rap artist Signmark Marko Vuoriheimo. Before the establishment of the service, there was no remote interpretation service available in Finland at all. Kela (the Social Insurance Institution of Finland) offered the opportunity to make a Skype call during very limited opening hours from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., which, however, did not meet the needs of the deaf.
“The only way to handle phone conversations was to order a sign language interpreter to your home and hand them the phone. This created many problems: it takes time for the interpreter to come to my home, my home had to be clean, and I had to be dressed,” says Vuoriheimo. In the worst case, the call went to an answering machine or a callback service, and then typically rang right after the interpreter’s appointment time had ended and they had already left.
Vuoriheimo asked many parties to improve the matter, but when nothing happened, he decided to solve the problem himself and Chabla was created. The service has received praise from grateful users who say that Chabla’s interpretation service is fast, simple and easy to use. It’s no longer necessary to order an interpreter at home, and things that need to be handled over the phone can be handled much more easily than before.
“Many deaf people have moderate Finnish language skills, and for this reason, the chat service is often not sufficient. The need to converse in one’s mother tongue, for example, sign language, is huge,” says Vuoriheimo. “Chabla brings the hearing and the deaf closer together and at the same time breaks down the language barrier,” he continues.
As a deaf person, the accessibility of customer service means a lot to Vuoriheimo. He says that Finland is going in the right direction with accessibility, but there is still a lot that can be done. According to Vuoriheimo, handling things on the phone used to be difficult, sometimes almost impossible. “Now I can just put the phone on the table, use Chabla to call a customer service representative and start signing. Ah, this ease!”, he rejoices.
Vuoriheimo loves to travel and often heads to Lapland to ski and hike. Moreover, he is also interested in visiting new destinations. When travelling by air, Vuoriheimo hopes that the announcements at the airport would be signed in the future. Another wish for all airlines is to have safety videos translated into sign language and visible on the front of the plane. At the same time, he reminds that a hearing impairment does not equal a mobility disability, and he does not need a wheelchair or a guide when he reaches his destination.
Communicating with Chabla
We hope that Chabla makes handling things with Finnair’s Finnish customer service easier for our deaf customers, and thus, makes our services more accessible.
If you want to communicate with Finnair's customer service in sign language, you must first download the free Chabla mobile application to your smartphone from Google Play or the App Store. When you call our Finnish customer service through the Chabla application, the call is first connected to an interpreter, after which you are connected to our customer service. The interpreter signs the conversation with the customer service representative via video chat.
Sign language service is available according to Chabla’s opening hours, so on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The call costs the same as a normal call to Finnair's customer service, and the Chabla service number has a normal local network charge. You can find our customer service contact information on our website.