Collaborative Research: II-EN: Development of Publicly Available, Easily Searchable, Linguistically Analyzed, video Corpora for Sign Language and Gesture Research

Project Details


American Sign Language (ASL) is used by as many as two million people in the United States, with additional users elsewhere in North America. The purpose of this 'planning grant' is to enable the PI and her multi-institutional team to explore the case for a possible future NSF investment in an annotated, publicly available, and easily searchable corpus consisting of terabytes of ASL video data (deriving in part from prior work by the PI and her colleagues), including diverse types of content such as dialogues, narratives, elicited sentences illustrating specific grammatical constructions, and isolated signs. The PI contends such a resource would constitute an important infrastructure that would be exploited by a broad research community to advance the fields of linguistics (the structure of ASL), computer vision (machine recognition of gestures), indexing of visual information (through the expansion of mark up vocabularies), and education. The PI notes that the potential value of the existing corpora remains largely untapped, notwithstanding their extensive and productive use by her team and others, due to hardware and software limitations that make it cumbersome to search, identify, and share data of interest.

Broader Impacts: The new resource would be easily accessible by the research community and the broader public, via a user-friendly Web-based interface. Availability of the resource online would allow ASL teachers and users, and others, to access the data directly. Users would be able to look up an unknown sign by submitting a video example of that sign. Students of ASL would be able to retrieve video showing examples of a specific sign used in actual sentences, or examples of a grammatical construction. ASL instructors and teachers of the Deaf would have easy access to video examples of lexical items and grammatical constructions as used by a variety of native signers, for use in language instruction and evaluation.

Effective start/end date4/1/103/31/11


  • National Science Foundation: $20,000.00


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