SBIR Phase I: ASL Literacy Support System

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 0944752
Agency Tracking Number: 0944752
Amount: $149,986.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2010
Solicitation Year: 2010
Solicitation Topic Code: EA
Solicitation Number: NSF 09-541
Small Business Information
11323 Amherst Avenue, silver spring, MD, 20902
DUNS: 194180741
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: Y
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Corinne Vinopol
 (301) 942-4326
Business Contact
 Corinne Vinopol
Title: DEng
Phone: (301) 942-4326
Research Institution
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will examine the feasibility of producing a hardware/software system that will enable a user to: 1) scan paper-based text; 2) read screen-based text; and 3) type and have that text appear in software that supports it with American Sign Language graphics and video clips in real time. This software also will enable the user to edit, print, select appropriate signs when more than one match the English word, 'hide' signs when support is not wanted, retrieve sign graphics/video through an index, and generate flashcards and sign/word matching worksheets. This outcomes of this project will result in creation of a software beta version using pen scanning capabilities having 5,000 signs/words, and planning for screen reading. Many deaf children are challenged by reading since this process largely depends on auditory understanding. Teachers of the deaf frequently re-interpret text into ASL or enhance it with signs to render it more comprehensible to their students. Research has shown that incorporation of signs with text provides a multimodal approach to the development of early literacy skills that utilizes multiple intelligences and learning styles. Heretofore, the process of reinforcing text with signs has involved laborious copying, drawing, cutting, and/or pasting. ASL is a visual/gestural language distinct from English. Many deaf people who rely on sign language do not have good facility with English. Because English is an auditory mediated language that depends upon phonological code, reading achievement scores of deaf children usually fall far short of those found among hearing children of comparable abilities. A particularly interesting aspect of the low reading skill levels displayed by deaf students is that while they may not understand a sentence in print, they may understand it perfectly if it is presented in ASL. Incorporation of sign language into early reading skills training is fast gaining favor also among early childhood educators who have long struggled with finding fun and productive ways to actively engage young children in the process. This product will be tremendously useful to teachers, business personnel, speech/language pathologists, etc. who have a need to support understanding of English text with ASL signs for purposes of literacy improvement, curriculum enhancement, or communication. This product will enable users to type, scan text, or read screens and have output in text with ASL graphics and/or video support at an affordable price.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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