Keynote: Being a Computational Linguist in Sign Language Research

19. September 2023 09:09 — 10:00
Ingolstadt, Deutschland
Dieser Vortrag ist nur auf Englisch verfügbar.


Many different sign languages exist across the globe. They are fully-formed natural languages that use the visual-gestural modality to convey meaning and represent the preferred mode of communication for many deaf and hard-of-hearing people. For computational linguists, working with sign languages presents many challenges. Sign languages are three-dimensional and are produced using multiple channels (right hand, left hand, face, posture…) at once. They have no commonly used writing systems. Annotated corpora are rare and considerably smaller than most spoken language text corpora. Most preprocessing tools such as tokenizers or POS-taggers are not available either, in some cases because even the linguistic basis on which they would build is disputed. Other challenges are of an ethical nature. Deaf communities are linguistic and cultural minorities. To ensure that language technologies contribute to their empowerment and avoid harm and exploitative practices, development must happen for and with those communities. I will talk about my experience of joining a sign language corpus project, facing these challenges, what sign language technologies I did encounter and where I believe computational linguists can most help.