ASL from AND TO English?

A bidirectional dictionary for American Sign Language.

Any English speaker who wants to learn how to sign (in American Sign Language) a meaning for a hearing-impaired person can look up the meaning in a dictionary to find the appropriate gestures. Or, for immediate gratification, one could look it up online. But what if someone is looking at an ASL gesture and needs to find its meaning?

According to Technology Review new sign-language dictionary is being developed that allows the user to look up gestures in order to glean their meaning. Developed at Boston University as part of the American Sign Language Linguistic Research Project, the system lets users communicate a gesture into a computer camera and submit that as a query to the dictionary.

Additional applications besides a strict dictionary include the possibility of a Google-like search based on sign-language. It seems to me that someone who is hearing impaired could probably zero in more precisely for search results by using the same keyboard input that others use. But, usually a development such as this has benefits and ramifications beyond what was ever pictured (or signed) for it.

Marjolein Groot Nibbelink
Marjolein realized early on that the Netherlands was too small for her. After traveling to 30+ countries over the span of 10 years she moved to the United States in 2014. She holds a degree in Communication from the University of Rotterdam and has long had an affinity for creative writing.


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