The Prairie View A&M University, John B. Coleman Library, Northwest Houston Center will be the host of an innovative pilot project that uses technology to communicate with the hearing impaired.
Distance Services Librarian, Elizabeth Jean Brumfield, while researching assistive technology stumbled upon a website introducing SignAll, the first product in the world that enables spontaneous virtual communication between a Deaf and a hearing individual via automated American Sign Language (ASL) translation technology.
During the pilot, the SignAll system will be used publicly for both translations and learning ASL. This means anyone will have access to it, whether this is a deaf library visitor, personnel, or a person interested in learning andor practicing ASL with an interactive, artificially intelligent partner.
With the help of SignAll Chat, a hearing librarian will be able to communicate with a deaf visitor, not using writing or guessing, but being translated both ways via the SignAll Chat system. At the same time, when not used for translations, the system may be used for learning ASL by anyone who has access to the system, such as personnel and visitors.
SignAll was invented in Hungary by technology experts who realized a need for better ways to communicate with the deaf. After years of development, SignAll is now in eight colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. The John B. Coleman Library will be the first to pilot virtual sign language translations that are related to library communication, such as questions about books and authors. In addition to the equipment provided by SignAll, librarians and library users will have access to expert sign language experts and deaf advocates. The library is fortunate to have as a consultant, Dr. Dana Taylor, chair of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Phoenix, Savannah campus, and the Disability Service Adviser.
For the pilot project the library is seeking deaf and hard of hearing individuals and other persons with beginner and intermediate sign language skills to test the equipment. If you are interested please contact the Prairie View A&M University, Northwest Houston Center Library at 713-790-7155.
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