Winner of the 8th Competition “Prize for PhD thesis on Disability 2016”
Deaf people are among the categories that are most heavily affected by the digital divide. Currently, most of the accessibility guidelines to address deafness propose solutions involving the use of vocal languages. However, many deaf people prefer to express themselves using sign languages, and their difficulties with vocal languages, even in their written form, are not often considered.
This research helps to reduce the digital divide by focusing on the informatization of SignWriting, which is a promising system designed to represent sign languages in a written form.
In particular, a framework (SWord) has been outlined to facilitate the production and the use of resources in sign language written with SignWriting. This paper describes the research, design, development and validation of two tools in SWord.
The first instrument is a digital editor (SWift) to create texts with SignWriting. The second, to whom much of the research is devoted, is a software that can convert handwritten SignWriting symbols into digital SignWriting texts. This technique is referred to as SignWriting Optical Glyph Recognition (SW-OGR). SW-OGR can allow deaf people to handwrite SignWriting, thus making the composition of a text fast and convenient for everyday use.
Finally, this research also shows that the integration of SWord in a communication platform can grant a very high level of accessibility to those who use sign language, making communication a simple and satisfying experience.