Show 39: Excerpt - Assistive Technology Helping Deaf Students Succeed

Matt Huenerfauth, assistant professor of computer science and linguistics at the City University of New York, demonstrates the use of motion-capture data-gloves to record the movements of the hands; this information can be analyzed to produce realistic movements of a virtual human character in animations of sign language.

AT THE LINGUISTIC and Assistive Technologies Laboratory or LATLab at the City University of New York in Queens, lab director Dr. Matt Huenerfouth is studying how to produce software that would generate animations of sign language for the deaf and hearing impaired population. There is a need for this type of technology because for those who have been deaf their whole life, reading written English is a challenge.

The interior of the Linguistic and Assistive Technologies Laboratory at Queens College of the City University of New York.

The average reading level among deaf high school graduates is a fourth grade level. American Sign Language is a completely different language than spoken English so it's understandable that for children whose mother tongue is ASL that they would have trouble in traditional schooling environments where lessons are taught in spoken/written English. One of the biggest challenges in deaf education is confronting these literacy challenges, but graduate-level research at CUNY are seeking to close the gap for hearing impaired students.

Mathematical models of the movement of human sign-language users are digitized and analyzed to produce realistic and accurate animations of a virtual human character performing sign language.

Here in Alaska, many types of assistive technology are used in the classroom to assist hearing impaired students. Kaela Parks is the director of Disability Support Services at the University of Alaska Anchorage. This department arranges for classroom interpreters and also stocks an assortment of technologies for students and professors to use in the classroom. Their mission is two-fold – accommodating disabled students, and also sharing their resources with others in the state.

KTD Producer Sarah Gonzales has the story, listen below...

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