Project title: Sign Language Dictionary of Technical Terms for Education
Reference number (contract number): 2021-1-PT01-KA220-HED-000027550
Field: T120 System engineering, computer technology
Project funding/programme: Erasmus+ КА2
Duration: January 2022 – February 2024
Total costs: 36.249 EUR
Co-funding rate (in %): 0%
The amount of co-financing (UM share): 0 EUR
UM FERI Coordinator: red. prof. dr. Tatjana Welzer Družovec
Project Coordinator: Medidata
Web page: https://techwhiz.hmu.gr/
- Medidata (project coordinator) – Portugal
- University of Siegen – Germany
- Polytechnic Institute of Porto – Portugal
- Hellenic Mediterranean University – Greece
- European Association of Career Guidance – Cyprus
- University of Maribor – Slovenia
The TechWhiz project is aimed at improving the understanding of technical terms using sign language. It will help deaf learners to access education in their mother tongue, thus improving their learning experience.
Deaf people have many different difficulties in communicating with the rest of the population. Deaf people often have difficulty reading fluently and cannot understand the meaning of written text as well as they can understand the same content in their native sign language.
Technical terms are essential to all technical and scientific endeavours and usually have a very specific meaning. In education, clear definitions of terms should be provided when introducing a new topic. If these terms are only defined in written language, deaf learners are at a disadvantage. There is a need for a tool that uses sign language to introduce and explain technical or scientific concepts in specific areas of knowledge to deaf learners.
To help bridge this gap between the two languages, the TechWhiz project is developing a dictionary that allows the definition of technical terms or any other word in sign languages. The TechWhiz Dictionary combines the virtual representation of sign languages from TechWhiz Studio and the semantic mapping between spoken and sign language from the TechWhiz Gloss Loader. The resulting dictionary will allow searches in any of the supported national languages and provides a definition of the terms found in the corresponding sign language.
Key project results
The TechWhiz platform integrates three components: the Dictionary (PR1), the Gloss Loader (PR2) and the Studio (PR3). The TechWhiz Dictionary is an online glossary of technical terms explained in the sign language of the user. The dictionary is editable by registered users so teachers and sign language experts can create specific terms’ explanations and glossaries to meet specific needs in an open and free way. If the user searches for a term that is not yet available in the dictionary, an automatic explanation will be generated using artificial intelligence and web scrapping technologies.
The Dictionary is the core project result and the one that satisfies in its own the project goal. However, the explanations available at the Dictionary require the other two components which are the tools that support the creation and maintenance of the glossaries and the sign language explanations available for search at the Dictionary.
The TechWhiz Gloss Loader allows experts from the technical fields to upload explanations in spoken language and sign language experts to load the corresponding sign language gloss (a gloss is a sequence of words from a spoken language that represent the signs in a sign language sentence). The Gloss Loader is a crucial component for a dynamic live dictionary since it will make the glossaries editable and maintainable by registered users.
The TechWhiz Studio is a tool allowing sign language experts to create and load new sign animations in a specific sign language. This component links TechWhiz to the VirtualSign 3D avatar that will produce the sign language explanations. When a new explanation includes new signs they will be configured at the Studio by sign language experts and, after being validated, they will become available for all. The Gloss Loader and the Studio empower experts to co-create glossaries for specific fields of knowledge.
Activities of UM FERI
UM FERI is the leader of IO4, addressing the course and certification for the tools produced in the project. UM is also collaborating with other partners to create the dictionary with the interpretations of a selection of technical terms from or fields of study in Slovene sign language.