Informaticopia

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

ALT-C2006 – British Sign Language by SMS and video

One of the most interesting sessions I have been to was from Andy Black about using mobile phones and SMS to provide British Sign Language learning and communication; Andy explained that each country has its own sign language. He talked about the context for the work being the shortage of qualified and trainee interpreters, and those who were around tending to work in industry (with better pay) than the education sector; as a result, the needs of students with hearing problems were often not being met.

Deaf learners have found SMS/text messaging to be one of the best recent developments. The work Andy described has been to develop text-based glossaries linked to short video clips that can then be accessed by mobile phone; current examples include www.artsigns.ac.uk; www.sciencesigns.ac.uk; and www.engineeringsigns.ac.uk The aim is to develop 1500 ICT-specific terms, which are based in definitions developed by the British Computer Society (BCS). At present, video clips are in Quicktime and Windows Media formats, but the aim is to convert them to Flash files (as all 1500 will then fit on a 1GB flash drive), which will allow for greater portability and easier use on mobile phones.

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