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Sign Language Used in Technology
We all know that sign language is used by people who are deaf and hard of hearing to communicate with other persons. But while this form of communication is essential to this group, only a small percentage of hearing people know this language.
To address this issue, developers of technologies have created ways to use sign language in software and similar products. Below we offer a glimpse of some of these assistive technologies. You may be surprised by how innovative these products are.
Say It Sign It
In 2007, IBM researchers in England created SiSi, which stands for Say It Sign It. SiSi converts spoken words into British Sign Language. This technology can translate to sign language the spoken dialogs in TV shows and online news and talkshows. People can also use SiSi to translate voicemail messages to sign language.
SiSi uses a speech recognition system that captures spoken words. The system converts the spoken words to text, then it converts the text to gestures used in sign language. The final output consists of the gestures exhibited by a virtual character displayed on the screen.
Filipino Sign Language Font
In May 2010, a deaf student of Manila Christian Computer Institute for the Deaf College of Technology (MCCID) developed the first Filipino sign language font. The MCCID FSL (Filipino Sign Language) Font is a true type font under the dingbat category. Dingbats refer to fonts that make use of symbols and special characters in place of regular alphabetic and numeric characters.
This sign language font provides all the letters and numbers used in fingerspelling and hand signs. To use the MCCID FSL Font, You have to download and install it in your computer and select it in your chosen application.
You can then start typing letters and numbers and view their equivalent hand signs on your screen. This font also offers a set of special characters which other fonts don’t provide.
Through this unique font, MCCID College of Technology aims to promote the recognition and use of sign language in the Philippines and in other countries as well.
You can download the MCCID FSL Font from the DeafPhilippines web site.
Sign Language Dictionary
Boston University researchers are developing an online searchable dictionary for sign language. With an Internet connection and a built-in camera, you can enter a specific hand gesture in an online dictionary.
The sign language dictionary takes the output of your hand gesture captured by your camera. The dictionary will process the data and display a set of possible meanings. Currently the dictionary has meanings of gestures used in the American Sign Language. Once this technology is fully developed, anyone can use the online sign language dictionary to look for meanings of hand gestures.
Mobile Sign Language Systems
Two students in the College of Engineering’s Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences have developed a technology known as Mobile Sign Language Systems (MSigns). MSigns takes spoken English recorded on a handheld device and translates it to a video of sign language.
The aim of MSigns is to help deaf persons in communicating and understanding spoken words on the spot even without an interpreter. Deaf or hard of hearing college students in particular can use MSigns in quickly converting lectures into video images of sign language.