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Re: Accessibility and sign languages (was Re: Suggested issues ... innext version of guidelines)

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 6 Aug 1999 11:58:59 -0400 (EDT)
To: Chris Kreussling <CHRIS.KREUSSLING@ny.frb.org>
cc: jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au, w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.10.9908061154150.16228-100000@tux.w3.org>
I'm going to disappoint you Chris...

I agree that translation of text to sign is equivalent to translation of a
written language to a different one, but I suspect that it will be one of hte
easier translations - english to japanese is very hard, but swedish to danish
is not so difficult.

And so your conclusion holds, more or less. You can generate translations,
it's just that they are often very poor ones. But if there is something that
can be done to ensure the best possible automatic translations (write clearly
and simply?) then it might start to fall within the boundaries of
accessibility, if not now then in the future, and therefore we should keep an
eye on it.

There is also an interesting point here for SMIL, where signed captions are
likely to be useful...

Charles McCN

On Fri, 6 Aug 1999, Chris Kreussling wrote:
  I'm going to make some statements, and hope someone proves me wrong!
  
  1) Translation of text written in one language into a sign language -
  English to ASL, say - is at least as difficult as translation into
  another textual language - English to French, Russian, Japanese,
  whatever. I think translation between languages is (should be) beyond the
  scope of "accessibility." TRANSCRIPTION of text to sign may be possible,
  for example: English to MCE, Manual-Coded English. The language is still
  English; its representation/format is different: speech, versus text,
  versus sign. This becomes accessible to the person who's deaf to the
  spoken language and illiterate in the written language and who's been
  educated in the manual encoding of the language. This doesn't become any
  more accessible to the native speaker of a sign language who doesn't
  already know English.
  
  2) There are no "text equivalents" for sign languages. There are some
  systems of encoding or capturing many aspects of sign languages in
  written or graphical form. However, these systems are not used beyond
  research or academic settings and communities. In particular, they are
  not in common use by native speakers of sign languages, nor even by
  students or interpreters. Analogues for spoken languages would be
  transcription into phonetic alphabets, or sentence diagrams. It should be
  possible to tag such representations as an "experimental" language or
  MIME type when they appear on the Web, so that those who understand and
  use them can locate and share them.
  
  3) One result of the two previous statements is that there's no way to
  universally caption sign language, for example: a video clip of a signer.
  The video clip would be tagged as sign language (lang=x-ASL?), while the
  caption would be tagged as whatever written language it was translated
  into (lang=en-US).
  
  
Received on Friday, 6 August 1999 11:59:07 GMT

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