New Program Will See Sign Language Users’ Hand Signals As Text On Screen
UK- British scientists are developing a truly innovative computer program that will enable sign language users’ hand movements to be transformed straight into text for immediate display on a computer screen.
The program, currently being designed by researchers at Aberdeen University, is a world first for technology, and could be in use by 2013. Those involved in its development say it is set to transform the method by which deaf people communicate and assist them to proceed successfully in the employment field opening up avenues that were previously closed to them.
The new technology works with a basic camera used to record the sign language user’s hand movements which are then entered into the computer program and converted into text form to allow the user’s colleagues to read it with no need for knowledge of any sign language.
The scientists aim to further develop the basic program, the Portable Sign Language Translator (PSLT), into an ‘app’ for use on smart phones, PCs, tablets, laptops, and various other devices; this could be operated with various sign languages including British Sign Language (BSL). Around 70,000 people in Britain use BSL.
Working in conjunction with the scientists is a business called Technabling whose founder Dr Ernesto Compatangelo, who is also a lecturer in computing science, said that this design’s objective is to enable those using sign language to have control over the many challenges they can meet in communication, with the aid of modern portable technology.
BSL does have its limitations in allowing expression of particular terms, for example, technical words and certain terms in use within individual employment areas; however, the program can be adapted to interpret a person’s own vocabulary which they may have had difficulty expressing easily by means of conventional BSL.
A member of the PSLT research team Dr James Christie, who uses sign language as he is partially deaf, said that the PSLT narrows the barrier in communication between those people who were born deaf, those who have lost their hearing at a young age, those whose hearing is failing, and those with no hearing problems, particularly when confronted by close, direct contact situations such as lectures, workshops and group interaction.
This is a major stride forward for technology and, more importantly, those with hearing difficulties.
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