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Mobile Phone Access to a Sign Language Dictionary

Michael Jones, Harley Hamilton and James Petmecky

The 17th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility - Posters and Demos (ASSETS 2015)
Lisbon, Portugal, October 26-28, 2015


We have built a functional prototype of a mobile phone app that allows children who are deaf to look up American Sign Language (ASL) definitions of printed English words using the camera on the mobile phone. In the United States, 90% of children who are deaf are born to parents who are not deaf and who do not know sign language [3]. In many cases, this means that the child will not be exposed to fluent sign language in the home and this can delay the child's acquisition of both their first signed language and a secondary written language [1]. Another consequence is that outside of school the child may not have easy access to people or services that can translate written English words into ASL signs. We have developed a prototype phone app that allows children who are deaf and their parents to look up ASL definitions of English words in printed books. The user aims the phone camera at the printed text, takes a picture and then clicks on a word to access the ASL definition. Our next steps are to explore the idea with children who are deaf and their parents, develop design guidelines for sign language dictionary apps, build the app using those guidelines and then to test the app with children who are deaf and their hearing parents.

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