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Helping deaf access information: Sign translation by computer

In Austria, technology helps deaf people access information. A software system uses a digital avatar to translate content to sign language.
Screenshot taken from a video. In the video, two children are sitting at a kitchen table. At the front of the video, an avatar in the lower right corner shows an animated image of a person who can sign.

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In Austria, technology is helping deaf people access information. The SiMAX software system uses a digital avatar to translate information to sign language. The software translates large amounts of information more quickly than humans. In other words, the software does some sign translation itself. But automatic translation is less accurate. Thus, a deaf person manages the translation process. So the person ensures that finished translations are accurate. In consequence, this helps create jobs for deaf people.

The SiMAX digital avatar is an animated person able to sign. Also, the avatar can make facial expressions and move its eyebrows. Thus, the avatar can correctly use sign language grammar. For example, some sign languages use a raised eyebrow to show a question. The avatar also can raise its eyebrow. The appearance of the avatar can change for different audiences. For example, if the avatar is translating for deaf children, it can look like a signing child. The SiMAX avatar helps deaf Austrians access information in television and the Internet.  

The web page and PDF file are mostly accessible for people using screen reading software. For example, images have descriptions for people who cannot see.

Also explore other “best practice” examples of assistive technology.

Click here to show & hide the transcript with descriptions


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