Mike Best of Colorado has worked in the Audiology field for many years and contributes to many online publications. In the following article Mike Best discusses the advancements in teaching sign language, making it more accessible to a broader population.
To the majority population, communication is intuitive and learned through exposure to our parents’ and community’s language. Yet, for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, learning to communicate takes time and effort, as it often relies on sign language. Fortunately, new technologies and pedagogical advancements are making it easier to teach sign language explains Mike Best of Colorado.
Through artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and computer learning, sign language education is rapidly becoming more accessible to a wider population. Mike Best of Colorado compares some of the latest advancements and learn how technology is simplifying sign language education to help people who are deaf or hard of hearing learn to communicate.
Computer Learning is Enabling Software to Teach Sign Language
One of the latest advancements in sign language education is the development of computer learning software that can be used to teach sign language. This type of software is designed to analyze a person’s signing patterns and provide feedback on errors. The software can also be used to create virtual simulations of signing environments, which can be used to teach beginners the proper way to sign explains Mike Best.
One such software program is “Project Shuwa”, which is named for the Japanese character meaning “sign language”. This software can learn signs from multiple languages through video content and then input the information into a comprehensive global sign language dictionary.
Another computer learning program currently on the market is a simple mobile app called “Mimix Sign Language”. This app also works as a sign language dictionary that can teach new signs using a 3D avatar. This way, learners can look up any sign that they don’t know and see it acted out directly on their mobile device explains Mike Best of Colorado.
Artificial Intelligence is Taking Computer Learning to the Next Level
While computer learning software is making it easier to teach sign language, Mike Best says that artificial intelligence is taking the technology even further. Artificial intelligence is being used to develop sign language recognition software that can be used to help people who are deaf or hard of hearing communicate with those who don’t know sign language.
Mike Best discusses one such software program is “SignAll”, which uses artificial intelligence to translate sign language into spoken or written English in real-time. The software is able to recognize over 24,000 different signs from American, British, and Australian sign languages.
The program can be used by deaf individuals to communicate with others through text or video chat, or it can be used by businesses to provide customer service to deaf or hard of hearing customers. This software is helping to make sign language education more accessible to the hearing community and teach non-signers to communicate with the Deaf community says Mike Best of Colorado.
Virtual Reality is Helping to Simulate Real-Life Signing Environments
As virtual reality technologies have improved over the past few years, sign language educators have been quick to implement these technologies into their classrooms. Currently, VR and MR systems are being used to help people who are deaf or hard of hearing learn sign language.
Virtual reality simulations can be used to create realistic signing environments where educators can teach beginners the proper way to sign. One such virtual reality program is “Signing Avatars and Immersive Learning”, which was developed by researchers at Gallaudet University.
The program uses avatars to simulate real-life signing interactions and can be used to provide feedback to young learners. The program can also be used to teach advanced students how to sign in more complex situations explains Mike Best.
Although these technologies are relatively new and only just making their way into sign language classrooms, they’re already making a difference and creating interactive learning environments for young students. Rather than having students learn in a static, rote manner, VR technologies allow students to act out what they learn in a realistic environment. This helps solidify concepts so they can apply new lessons in the real world.
What’s Next for Sign Language Education?
Mike Best explains that the advancements that have been made in sign language education are truly remarkable. Through the use of computer learning, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality, sign language is becoming more accessible to a wider population. As the technology continues to develop, it is likely that more advancements will be made in sign language education.
Although learning to sign will inevitably be harder than intuitive language learning, by creating hands-on digital tools, sign language educators can narrow the gaps between deaf and hard of hearing communities and the general population. As more people become aware of these issues, the two communities can merge into one.