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NEWS Last modified on April 18, 2016

Tom Jobim International Airport introduces 'virtual' sign language assistant

Meet Hugo, the sign language expert and newest member of staff at Rio de Janeiro’s Tom Jobim International Airport.

He is described as a “virtual interpreter” by airport operator, RIOgaleão, and is a new addition to its website as part of an initiative to make the gateway more accessible and, subsequently the airport experience more enjoyable, for all users.

RIOgaleão say that Hugo is designed to help people with impaired hearing better understand, use and explore the airport website site to find information such as the location of airlines, buses, BRT [bus rapid transit] system, shops and restaurants.

The airport believes that it is a pioneering new service and one that it is particularly proud to have introduced as the 2010 Census revealed that up to 10 million people in Brazil alone have hearing difficulties, a large proportion of which don’t speak Portuguese.


Users can activate and interact with Hugo on the airport’s website – www.riogaleao.com – by clicking on the ‘Hand Talk’ icon in the corner of the screen.

The airport is expected to enjoy a record-breaking year for passenger traffic as Rio, of course, will host both the Olympic Games and the Paralympics later this year.

RIOgaleão adds that 'accessibility' is a watchword for the airport in the year that Rio de Janeiro will host the Paralympic Games Rio 2016.

It states: "We hope that Hugo ensures that we have a communication channel for all at Tom Jobim International Airport."

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