[Athen] Food for Thought: Research in Machine ASL Translation

Leyna Bencomo lbencomo at uccs.edu
Wed May 17 09:47:35 PDT 2017

It's great to get first-hand opinions. Kudos to you, Lynn for teaching your daughter to read captions when she was so young. Thank you for sharing.

Leyna Bencomo
Assistive Technology Specialist
Information Technology
University of Colorado Colorado Springs
1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway, EPC 215
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
(719) 255-4202 / lbencomo at uccs.edu<mailto:lbencomo at uccs.edu>

From: athen-list [mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Lynn Wilson
Sent: Wednesday, May 17, 2017 10:36 AM
To: 'Access Technology Higher Education Network' <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: [Athen] Food for Thought: Research in Machine ASL Translation

Really interesting article and future developments may prove invaluable to Deaf sign language-users.

I do agree that captions can be difficult to read with lower levels of reading skill. It also depends on how they are done though. Moving captions are very difficult to read if you need to look at words for a length of time. Much easier if they are static on the screen.

It will also depend on whether written English is the native language. The difference in word order for ASL/BSL can mean that the reader is slower and so captions can be difficult to read. It is the same for Deaf or hearing speakers of other languages too. I often advised academic staff that a transcript of videos may prove more useful than captions but this is a matter of student choice. Students with dyslexia, dyspraxia and AD(H)D also reported that they found captions distracting so captions that can be switiched off are good.

My daughter is profoundly Deaf and had her first hearing aids at 3 months old. I put all available captions on TV when she was very small so she got used to them. She learnt to speak nouns and verbs fairly easily but conjunctions were difficult so I taught her to use them by reading them first. By the time she was 5 years old she was getting a good idea of what was going on in children's TV programmes (those that were captioned). She reports that captions were vital to her through secondary school and university.

Best wishes


From: athen-list [mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Nast, Joseph
Sent: 17 May 2017 16:15
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list at u.washington.edu>>
Subject: [Athen] Food for Thought: Research in Machine ASL Translation

Interesting article on slate.com:


Particularly jarring quote from Harley Hamilton, computer scientist at Georgia Tech affiliated with the Center for Accessible Technology in Sign (http://www.cats.gatech.edu/): "For kids, captioning is almost a waste of time... "

NOTE: According to the article, Mr. Hamilton's reasoning seems to stem from Galludet University's 2011 report entitled "Reading Research & Deaf Children" (http://vl2.gallaudet.edu/files/8713/9216/6286/research-brief-4-reading-and-deaf-children.pdf) which reports 18-year-olds who are deaf on average have a reading level that "... has remained relatively stable at the third to fourth grade level for more than half a century."

Joseph M. Nast
Assistive Technology Specialist
Lone Star College Cy Fair Disability Services

Office: CASA 109
Phone: (281) 290-3207

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