The site lists 6,755 terms from biology, chemistry, engineering, math and computer science textbooks. Of those, about 2,800 have video entries, some with multiple entries. Partnerships with the country's two largest higher education institutions for deaf and hard-of-hearing students have helped provide content.
Collaborators include Caroline Solomon, a UW alumna and biology professor at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., and Lang and Raja Kushalnagar at Rochester's National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
Visit the forum to see a sign for "bioengineering," "integral" and "peer-to-peer," none of which is listed in the Science Signs dictionary. Terms still seeking an ASL translation include "byte" and "eukaryote."
Anyone can visit the forum, but to add signs a user must create a free account then record a short video using a computer's camera that can be reviewed and uploaded. People also can rate and comment on signs uploaded by other users.
Ladner hopes the recent article will spur interest and encourage people to suggest more entries among the remaining terms. He is seeking funding to update the site, and hopes it will reach critical mass among ASL speakers in scientific and technical fields.
Between 2006 and 2010, U.S. institutions awarded 301 doctorate degrees in STEM fields to people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, Ladner said. Because that number includes hard-of-hearing, the number of science PhDs who use ASL is likely much lower. Many members of that community are geographically scattered, and to make matters worse, American Sign Language and British Sign Language have their own technical lexicons.
"I hope ASL-STEM Forum helps more deaf students become scientists and engineers," Ladner said. "And as more deaf students enter these fields they will hopefully contribute to the forum, making it sustainable and useful over time."
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|Contact: Hannah Hickey|
University of Washington