Overall Objectives
Scientific Foundations
Application Domains
New Results
Other Grants and Activities

Section: Application Domains

Towards French Sign Language (LSF) modelling and processing

Participants : Lionel Clément, Renaud Marlet, Christian Retoré, Émilie Voisin [ correspondent ] .

After a global prohibition of Sign Languages decided in 1880 (and which lasted until the sixties in the USA and until the eighties in France), deaf people can use sign language and rather recently these languages are the object of new studies and development. A first aspect is the social acknowledgment of sign language and of the deaf community, a second aspect is the linguistic study of this language with a different modality (visual and gestural as opposed to auditive and phonemic), and the third and most recent aspect, which relies on the second, is the need for sign language processing. A first goal is computer aided learning of Sign Language for hearing people and even deaf people without access to sign language. A more challenging objective would be computer aided translation from or to sign language, or direct communication in sign language.

Given the rarity of linguistic study on the syntax and semantics of sign languages — some exceptions concerning American Sign Language are [61] , [53] , [54] — before being able to apply our methodology, our first task is to determine the structure of the sentence, using our personal competence as well as our relationship with the deaf community.

We intend to define methods and tools for generation of sign language sentences. It should be noted that there is a continuum of different representations of a sentence in Sign Language, from a grammatical description with agreement features and word/sign order that we are familiar with, to a notation system like Signwriting [68] or to a language for the synthesis of 3D images and movies. Our competences on the interface between syntax and semantics are well designed for work in generation of the grammatical representations.

A first application would be a software for teaching Sign Language, like the CD ROM Les Signes de Mano by IBM and IVT. Indeed, presently, only dictionaries are available on computers, or examples of sign language videos, but no interactive software. Our generation tools, once developed, could be useful to educative purposes.


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