American Sign Language Project

Signs for Computer Terminology

Sarah Geitz, former Professor at Gallaudet University and Purdue University, was awarded a 1998-1999 Special Projects Grant from ACM SIGGRAPH to create a website of VRML models and animations of 150-200 American Sign Language (ASL) signs for communication of computer-related terminology. The intent of the website was for a user to log in, select an avatar, pick the computer terms they would like to learn, and then launch a VRML file that will allow them to see their avatar making the sign. VRML will allow the user to move around the avatar and see movement from any angle. Animation and Visualization Effective ASL signing depends on subtle movements of the head, shoulders, arms, and hands. Ordinary “keyframe” animation to recreate these subtle movements is time-intensive and not always successful. Recording the actual movements of the sign is much more accurate. The IRC collaborated with Sarah Geitz to record the motion capture data for all the signs, create the needed hand positions, and develop a pool of avatars that users can select from. IRC Interns were involved in all steps of creating the over 800 VRML files that will be needed.

Production Notes

Project Director: Sarah Geitz
Motion Capture and Technical Directors: Alan Price, Tim Best
UMBC Intern: Jodi Kravetzker
This IRC collaboration received funding from the ACM SIGGRAPH Special Projects Program.