Press/Analyst Contact
D. Chaney




ASL to English Website Launched

Website Helps Deaf learn English With First-Ever Gesture-Based Dictionary


Sunnyvale, CA --- June 13, 2005: DCRE Labs' West Coast Division announces a new web-based assistive technology designed to help Deaf look up English words using hand movements from American Sign Language (ASL). Unlike traditional ASL dictionaries which provide the ASL equivalents to English words, this gestural-based dictionary will instead allow the Deaf user to enter their native ASL signs and look up the English equivalent.

"There are lots of paper-based English-to-ASL dictionaries out there, which is fine if you already know English and want to look up the corresponding sign or gesture. But what if you already know ASL but are trying to learn English?", said Daniel Chaney, developer of the system and President of DCRE Labs. "There's a catch-22 situation, because there isn't a way to look up the gesture you have in mind so you can't find the English equivalent. The ASL Dictionary hopes to change that by coding descriptive parts of the gestures into a searchable database that links concepts to English words."

Today's announcement makes the technology available freely to anyone with Internet access. The project is funded by DCRE Labs as part of their community outreach program and will rely on volunteers across the Internet to seed the database. "There are a lot of words and a lot of ASL signs, I don't begin to know a hundredth of them and the signs tend to vary from one region of the county to another. So, in order to populate the database, we're using am 'open source' approach to the entries, letting anyone and everyone contribute to the overall project by adding in the signs (or the English words) they know from their area. The system is designed to handle vagueness and provide a list of possible answers, so the Deaf user can choose the English word that best fits the sign they had in mind.

"We'll see how well it works, I'm optimistic that people who know sign language -- both Deaf and Hearing -- will find this to be a useful tool, for those learning English as well as those learning ASL."