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Say It Sign It : Converting Speech to Deaf Signs

Business Challenge

Working with UEA and the RNID, IBM has developed an ingenious system called SiSi (Say It Sign It) that automatically converts the spoken word into British Sign Language (BSL) which is then signed by an animated digital character or avatar.

"IBM is committed to developing IT solutions that are inclusive and accessible to all members of society," said Dr Andy Stanford-Clark, Master Inventor, IBM Hursley.

"This technology has the potential to make life easier for the deaf community by providing automatic signing for television broadcasts, and making radio news and talk shows available to a new audience over the Internet, or by providing automated voicemail transcription to allow them to make better use of the mobile network."

Our Solution

SiSi brings together a number of computer technologies. A speech recognition module converts the spoken word into text, which SiSi then interprets into gestures, that are used to animate an avatar developed at UEA which signs in BSL.

The signing avatars and the award-winning technology for animating sign language from a special gesture notation were developed by the University of East Anglia and the database of signs was developed by RNID (Royal National Institute for Deaf People).

John Glauert, Professor of Computing Sciences, UEA, said: "SiSi is an exciting application of UEA's avatar signing technology that promises to give deaf people access to sign language services in many new circumstances."

Business Outcome

With an estimated 55,000 people in the UK for whom BSL is their first language, there are great opportunities for businesses, including firms in the leisure and entertainment industries, to make themselves more accessible to this audience, and also to communicate more effectively with them.

Guido Gybels, Director of New Technologies at RNID, said: "RNID welcomes any development that would make the Information Society a more equal place for deaf and hard of hearing people. British Sign Language users are amongst the most disenfranchised citizens as a result of services and products not being designed with their needs in mind."

More Detail

For further information download the full Say It Sign It Case Study. A video of SiSi is available on YouTube