people have a small vocabulary, compared to hearing people in their
environment. As a result, their ability to read and write is often
limited as well. This would not be the case if they could read and
write in their own language: sign language.
In the Sign Printing System project (SignPS), the partners mapped a lot of sign characteristics and did research on what would be the best way to represent signs on paper. The project was aimed at the development of an interactive sign printing system.
From three-dimensional to two-dimensional
Signs as they are used by deaf people are dynamic,
three-dimonsional visual-gestural symbols. Just as words are made up
of letters, signs are made up of smaller units: shapes and movements
of the hands, their exact location and distance to the body, the
look on a face.
The SignPS software had to combine the chosen sign characteristics and represent the signs two-dimensionally on paper.
Prototypes: Sign Editor and Document Editor
Handicom has developed a prototype of the Sign Editor and the Document Editor.
With the Sign Editor signs can be made and edited. The signs are stored in a sign database.
The Sign Editor screen looks like a factory of little hands, movements and mimicry.
To actually write and print documents in sign language the SignPS Document Editor is used. This text processor doesn't work with letters from the alphabet, but with the signs that are found in the sign database. The program is designed to help the user find the signs that he needs, looking at characteristic hand shapes and/or movements.
This research project has been funded by the European Union as part of the TIDE (Technology Initiative for Disabled and Elderly People) program (1994-1997).
The project partners were:
- MicroCentre, University of Dundee, GB
- Department of Technical Computer Science, RWTH Aken, DL
- IRV, Hoensbroek, NL
- RNR, Amsterdam, NL