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Project Overview
Our goal is to translate English to American Sign Language, the language of the Deaf in North America. American Sign Language is different from English, with its own unique grammar. It is at least as different from English as any other natural language.

An automatic English to ASL translator would give Deaf people greater access to the hearing world. Currently we are developing tools to generate ASL as animation in response to spoken English.

Notes on American Sign Language

American Sign Language (ASL) is the preferred language of the Deaf in North America. It is a visual/gestural language, using handshape, position, palm orientation, movement and nonmanual signals. There is no one-to-one correspondence to English, as certain signs become complete phrases or sentences in English. A manual alphabet is used to fingerspell a proper noun before introducing a sign for the noun. It is also used for technical terms and loan words.

Currently, human ASL translators are essential for effective communication between Deaf and hearing presenters and their audiences. Good ASL translators are in high demand and are not always available for extremely short interactions. That means that communication among hearing and Deaf may be impaired or nonexistent, to the detriment of both groups.

Development of an automated synthesizer for ASL will make more information accessible to Deaf people on a more economical basis. It has the potential to allow the deaf to participate in and more fully understand the exchanges among a hearing audience in classrooms, meetings, and other venues. The synthsizer will also provide Deaf people with a better tool than English documents or notes for understanding content.

Given that ASL is the preferred language of over a 500,000 people in the United States, the project team feels that a very large group of people will benefit.


Link to Project Information Link to Demo Link to Team Info Link to Publications Send us Email