From Newton Mearns to Taipei
In 2003 Joel Frutin Kellhofer decided that being deaf would not stop him achieving success in business. Seven years later, millions of people benefit from this decision.
Joel founded AC2.com Productions Ltd to produce contents for media such as television and the Internet. He was determined to produce great work for hearing and Deaf audiences. The beginnings were small, but ambitions were high.
Joel explains: “My desk was in the corner of our living room in Newton Mearns. Our first contract was with the Scottish Council on Deafness. We developed their website, using video clips that made information accessible for Deaf and hearing people alike.
“These clips were a world premiere. Until then, nobody had been able to produce them in a format that could be used on the Internet. Later, we were the first company to use animation and in-vision signing against a moving 3D background.”
The latest technology
In the early days, using technology for digital video posed problems. Joel remembers: “In partnership with Zebra-Uno we made a DVD for Wolverhampton Council. We filmed in their professional studio. But I had to edit the video on a laptop. It didn’t have enough memory. So I had to delete office software applications to make space for video capture and editing.
“Nowadays, we’ve got no such worries. We use the latest technology, have powerful equipment for video production and website development, and brought all technical know-how in-house.”
Potential for clients
Clients quickly spotted the potential of AC2.com. Over the years we’ve worked with outstanding companies, public sector organisations and charities. Here are some examples of our work.
For the European Union of the Deaf we made the film SignSpeak. HM Revenue & Customs asked us to produce a British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation of their client charter. We've assisted the Scottish Government with a BSL translation of their duty report. We developed the website of UK Deaf Sport for instant video reports on the Deaflympics in Taipei (2009).
We’ve incorporated the Scottish Deaf Youth Association on the website of the British Deaf Association and produced a broadcast quality DVD called Signs of Our Times - A Sign Language History of the Deaf Community for the Deaf Association of Northern Ireland.
Businesses also benefit from our work. The Barclaycards internal Diversity & Inclusion website uses our video clips. BT has a Sign site, developed by AC2.com.
In partnership with Standard Life, Learning and Teaching Scotland and the Scottish Book Trust we produced the DVD On the Money, with stories for children on being financially responsible. The DVD includes in-vision BSL interpretation, English voiceover and subtitles, and audio tracks in English and Gaelic.
Our clients are satisfied with our work. An HM Revenue & Customs spokesperson says: “AC2.com not only produced a first class product, but they also went the extra mile by offering further support and advice.”
AC2.com is a Deaf-lead company. Mark Wheatley, Executive Director, European Union of the Deaf, adds: “One of the advantages of AC2.com is that their key staff are deaf and they fully understand the scope of our project.”
And Pragna Gandesha, Vice-Chair of Reach, Barclays Disability Network, comments: “The clips you’ve produced are a great addition to the site, because they increase its accessibility for Deaf and hard-of-hearing people.”
External recognition of the success of AC2.com came early and is on-going. We won the Royal Bank of Scotland Best Young Business Award in 2003. A year later we triumphed in the Regional Final of the Shell Livewire Young Entrepreneur of the Year. And we were runners-up in the Enterprising Young Brits Award in 2005.
In 2007, we won the Deaffest Award for Best British Short Film for the drama production Coming Out, which was funded by the British Deaf Association. Joel Kellhofer also won awards with Mutt & Jeff Pictures, a film production partnership, including the Best International Short Film award for the film Horatio (2008).
Offices in London and Glasgow
You’ll no longer find us in Newton Mearns. AC2.com now has offices in London and Glasgow, next to the BBC and STV.
We employ Deaf and hearing people and offer you the services of a network of associates. Kay Hughes runs our offices. She is an experienced administrator, who successfully delivers projects on time and budget.
Our sister company, Actual Signs, was set up in 2006. It organises deaf awareness courses and workshops, and was shortlisted in 2009 for the Organisational Achievement Annual Signature Awards.
Actual Signs is also a specialist in BSL teaching, training, interpretation and presentation. It is the only company in Scotland with a 100% success rate for their first group of students on the Signature Level 4 NVQ in Interpreting (BSL/English).
Like AC2.com, Actual Signs is Deaf-lead, employs Deaf and hearing people and uses a large network of freelancers. Julie Clark is coordinator at Actual Signs. She is a business-focussed organiser, having worked in investment accounting, human resources, training and education.
Visit at: www.actualsigns.com
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While producing media contents for hearing, Deaf and hard-of-hearing people, we continue to support the Deaf community through a range of sponsorship projects for organisations such as the British Deaf Association, Deaf Travel World, Gerry Hughes and BBC See Hear, Glasgow Football Club, Deaffest, DeafJetSki, Deaf Sports Personality of the Year 2010 and ASKDEAF.com.
We have also worked with the Mayor of London’s Senior Policy Adviser and the Greater London Authority on a 30-second video clip celebrating the annual BSL Recognition Day.
For more information, please contact Joel Frutin Kellhofer
14-18 Heddon Street
Tel: 020 7060 3315
Fax: 0871 433 1600
100 Brand Street
Tel: 0141 534 7912
Fax: 0871 433 1600