[AI] New sign language to help deaf learn science

renuka warriar erenuka at gmail.com
Sat Jan 19 11:23:21 EST 2008


The Hindu News Update Service

News Update Service
Saturday, January 19, 2008 : 1655 Hrs

Sci. & Tech.
New sign language to help deaf learn science

London (PTI): It's new and absolutely simple but this vocabulary of sign language could soon revolutionise the way science is taught to deaf children in
schools across the globe.

Researchers in the United Kingdom have developed the glossary of more than 250 signs for scientific terms that can be accessed over the internet by teachers,
interpreters and hearing impaired students.

"The scientific vocabulary for deaf children has developed simply because we needed it. People realised that there weren't enough deaf teachers in schools
and that finger spelling doesn't work for complex subjects. "You have to be able to understand the English first and then the concept and that can all
be very difficult," lead researcher Rachel O'Neill of University of Edinburgh was quoted by 'The Times' as saying.

The glossary is applicable for teaching in biology, physics, chemistry and mathematics. Terms of daunting complexity such as 'photosynthesis', 'density'
or 'bacteria' are explained by on-screen tutors who employ simple but descriptive gestures that suddenly create understanding. "Problems can be compounded
because with little access to the spoken word, deaf children often have poor reading skills," O'Neill said.

By contrast, the simple gestures employed by the new system are supported by written explanations. In some cases -- such as 'reaction' or 'distillation'
-- additional information is supplied in demonstration videos.

The researchers hope that further grant aid from the Scottish government will enable them to expand the glossary to encompass standard grade level in the
sciences.



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