SBIR Phase II: Software Tools for Authoring American Sign Language
National Science Foundation
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Small Business Information
3452 Lake Lynda Drive, Orlando, FL, 32817
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will develop a fully functioning prototype software tool that will allow educators, interpreters, and linguists skilled in American Sign Language (ASL), but not in computer 3-D animation, to create fully grammatical synthesized ASL. This technology will provide language access for Deaf individuals to Internet web pages and CD-ROM based media. This project builds upon the P.I.'s commercial Sign Smith products, which were developed, in part, under an earlier NSF SBIR grant. The current technology allows users to generate unique sentences composed of signs that are in citation, or non-inflected form and to add facial expressions. The resulting sign and sentence structure approximates English grammar and therefore represents a transliteration, also known as Signed English. Although Signed English does provide some access to digital media, the absence of many elements of ASL grammar limits the use of the technology by the larger segment of the Deaf population who require grammatical ASL for access. These tools will enable the user to dynamically compose and inflect ASL signs from parameterized components using several spatial frames of reference. These sign types include pronouns, indicating and locative verbs, and classifier predicates. The final commercial product will be a new integrated tool within the P.I.'s commercial Sign Smith Studio Authoring Tool. This tool will allow educators and multimedia developers to create engaging, grammatically correct, ASL animations for language access to digital information on Web Pages and in CD-ROM titles. The software interface not only allows authors to spatially inflect signs, but also it can be used to create signs as well. This capability opens opportunities for quickly building libraries of technical and scientific terms to be used in educational and scientific curricula. It also affords the potential to create libraries of foreign sign languages, therefore making it possible for the product to enter international markets. Content can be viewed using a proprietary licensed software Player. This product will increase access of Deaf and Hard of Hearing children and adults to digitally based information and promote inclusive education and employment approaches which accords with the language and intent of the New Freedom Initiative, recent amendments to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act. Not only does this technology have a viable commercial market, it also has broad societal benefits for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals in America and beyond.
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