forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Fernando Capovilla
Date:  Sun Nov 29, 1998  9:57 pm
Subject:  translation from spoken Spanish to SW, and from SW to spoken-written Portuguese

> Assunto: Automatic translation
> Data: Fri, 27 Nov 1998 16:23:39 -0500
> De: Carlos Thompson
> My name is Carlos and I'm working in a R&D group in Colombia, where we
> are planing to make an automatic machine (computer) translator from
> Spoken Spanish into Colombian Sign Language (LSC for short). At this
> momoent we are award of the lots of difficulties this project has to
> pass throw and one of those is the final representation of the LSC.
> As I've seen SignWriting is an option for the output of LSC, as well as
> digitalized video and rendered animations are.
> Other problems we are fasing are the translation itself, and the speech
> recognizion. This is an ambitious project and I would like to know if
> anybody knows on any think that could help us into this research we
> would thank you.

Hi, Carlos.Here in Brazil we have been working in the opposite problem: a
translation system from SignWriting into
spoken-written Portuguese (as opposed to from spoken Spanish to SignWriting),
but even so I think that our experience may be
of some relevance to you.
Your problem seems a bit more difficult, because you would need to deal with
voice recognition systems.
Over the last four years we have filmed, digitized, drawn and scanned 3500 signs
from Brazilian Signed Language (BrSL, for
short). Each sign has been drawn in stages so as to obtain graphic animation
effects. In our multimedia network system, BrSL
signs may be selected via touch sensitive screen. For the severely handicapped
deaf, we have adapted automatic scanning and
selection via devices sensitive to eye blink or air puff. When a sign is
selected, its correponding digitized voice sounds and
its corresponding glossy is printed in both Portuguese and English (we intend to
add Spanish now with the advent of our
MercoSul). We have also been working in the translation from BrSL to ASL, and
have done great progress with that too. Thus, a
Brazilian deaf with a spinal cord injury will be able to express his our her
thoughts even to a foreigner blind, and will be
able to converse with American deaf friends, even though one may not be familiar
with the other's sign language.
We also have great netware multimedia systems for the cerebral-palsied, the
alexic, the agraphic, the aphasic, and so on. We
have screened BrSL for iconic signs in order to build a hierarchy of iconicity
that is going to help us in rehabilitation
programs devoted to restoring signing in aphasic deaf people. Now we are working
on a dictionary (both printed and in CD) of
animated BrSL signs that brings not only the corresponding glossy and spoken
word, but also the SignWriting notation. We hope
it will help with the documentation of BrSL as well as with the spread of SW in
Brazil, as a tool for our planned literacy
projects using SW.
Our communication system permits the simultaneous use of a number of different
sign and symbol systems (such as SignWriting,
life-like signs from BrSL and from ASL, symbols from Johnson's PCS, from
Maharaj's PIC, from Blissymbols for the cerebral
palsied, etc.) selected from different image and voice banks. Thus a deaf
cerebral palsied person may select signs from the
sign language used in his or her own deaf community, and have them translated
into different symbol sets used by another
important reference group of his: the cerebral-palsied hearing friends.
Perhaps sharing this Brazilian experience may be of some help, I hope.
Good luck for you and your Colombian team in your interesting project. Fernando.
Fernando C. Capovilla, Ph.D.
Cognitive Neuropsycholinguistics & Rehabilitation Lab
University of Sao Paulo, Institute of Psychology, PSE

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