Navigation Links
Deaf, hard-of-hearing students perform first test of sign language by cell phone

University of Washington engineers are developing the first device able to transmit American Sign Language over U.S. cellular networks. The tool is just completing its initial field test by participants in a UW summer program for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

"This is the first study of how deaf people in the United States use mobile video phones," said project leader Eve Riskin, a UW professor of electrical engineering.

The MobileASL team has been working to optimize compressed video signals for sign language. By increasing image quality around the face and hands, researchers have brought the data rate down to 30 kilobytes per second while still delivering intelligible sign language. MobileASL also uses motion detection to identify whether a person is signing or not, in order to extend the phones' battery life during video use.

Transmitting sign language as efficiently as possible increases affordability, improves reliability on slower networks and extends battery life, even on devices that might have the capacity to deliver higher quality video.

This summer's field test is allowing the team to see how people use the tool in their daily lives and what obstacles they encounter. Eleven participants are testing the phones for three weeks. They meet with the research team for interviews and occasionally have survey questions pop up after a call is completed asking about the call quality.

The field test began July 28 and concludes this Wednesday. In the first two and a half weeks of the study, some 200 calls were made with an average call duration of a minute and a half, researchers said. A larger field study will begin this winter.

"We know these phones work in a lab setting, but conditions are different in people's everyday lives," Riskin said. "The field study is an important step toward putting this technology into practice." Participants in the current field test are students in the UW Summer Academy for Advancing Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Computing. The academy accepts academically gifted deaf and hard-of-hearing students interested in pursuing computing careers. Students spend nine weeks at the UW taking computer programming and animation classes, meeting with deaf and hard-of-hearing role models who already work in computing fields, UW graduate students and visiting local computer software and hardware companies.

Most study participants say texting or e-mail is currently their preferred method for distance communication. Their experiences with the MobileASL phone are, in general, positive.

"It is good for fast communication," said Tong Song, a Chinese national who is studying at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. "Texting sometimes is very slow, because you send the message and you're not sure that the person is going to get it right away. If you're using this kind of phone then you're either able to get in touch with the person or not right away, and you can save a lot of time."

Josiah Cheslik, a UW undergraduate and past participant in the summer academy who is now a teaching assistant, agreed.

"Texting is for short things, like 'I'm here,' or, 'What do you need at the grocery store?'" he said. "This is like making a real phone call."

As everyone knows, text-based communication can also lead to mix-ups.

"Sometimes with texting people will be confused about what it really means," Song said. "With the MobileASL phone people can see each other eye to eye, face to face, and really have better understanding."

Some students also use video chat on a laptop, home computer or video phone terminal, but none of these existing technologies for transmitting sign language fits in your pocket.

Cheslik recounts that during the study one participant was lost riding a Seattle city bus and the two were able to communicate using MobileASL. The student on the bus described what he was seeing and Cheslik helped him navigate where he wanted to go.

Newly released high-end phones, such as the iPhone 4 and the HTC Evo, offer video conferencing. But users are already running into hitches broadband companies have blocked the bandwidth-hogging video conferencing from their networks, and are rolling out tiered pricing plans that would charge more to heavy data users.

The UW team estimates that iPhone's FaceTime video conferencing service uses nearly 10 times the bandwidth of MobileASL. Even after the anticipated release of an iPhone app to transmit sign language, people would need to own an iPhone 4 and be in an area with very fast network speeds in order to use the service. The MobileASL system could be integrated with the iPhone 4, the HTC Evo, or any device that has a video camera on the same side as the screen.

"We want to deliver affordable, reliable ASL on as many devices as possible," Riskin said. "It's a question of equal access to mobile communication technology."

Jessica Tran, a doctoral student in electrical engineering who is running the field study, is experimenting with different compression systems to extend the life of the battery under heavy video use. Electrical engineering doctoral student Jaehong Chon made MobileASL compatible with H.264, an industry standard for video compression. Tressa Johnson, a master's student in library and information science and a certified ASL interpreter, is studying the phones' impact on the deaf community.


Contact: Hannah Hickey
University of Washington

Related medicine news :

1. Akron Institute of Herzing University Launches Its First Bachelors Degree Programs to Prepare Students for Even Greater Success in Business, Health Care and IT
2. Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement Honor Top U.S. Science and Math Students and Teachers
3. ECELA Spanish School in Argentina Offers Students Opportunity to Work in Buenos Aires Free Health Fair
4. UMDNJs Health Information Management Program Trains Students for Careers in Fast-Growing Field
5. Bromley Brook Boarding School for Girls Creates Focus Cards to Help Students Regulate Emotions, Solve Problems
6. Dental Students Learn Importance of Legislative Process to Profession
7. South Dakota Students with Asthma Can Breathe Easier After New Law Allows Self-Administered Medications
8. Mother of Binge Drinking Victim Urges Students and Parents to Discuss Signs of Alcohol Poisoning, Emphasize Peer Responsibility Prior to Spring Break
9. Health Occupations Students of America, Inc. and the U.S. Army Sign Memorandum of Understanding in Support of Improving Career Options for Nations Students
10. City Harvest Food Council Chefs Meet With Harlem Students For Lunch & Travel to Washington to Ask Congress to Invest in Child Nutrition
11. Choose Responsibility Says New Study on Rising Alcohol Use Among Students Illustrates Need for Fresh Solutions
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Deaf, hard-of-hearing students perform first test of sign language by cell phone
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... According to an ... 2015 American Dental Association meeting in Washington D.C. revolved around the fact that proper ... overall health. The talk stressed the link between periodontal disease (more commonly referred to ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... NC (PRWEB) , ... November 27, 2015 , ... A ... effective ways to treat it. Surviving Mesothelioma has just posted the findings on ... at University Hospital Zurich analyzed the cases of 136 mesothelioma patients who were treated ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... ... edition of USA Today in Atlanta, Dallas, New York, Minneapolis, South Florida, with ... digital component is distributed nationally, through a vast social media strategy and across ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Intellitec Solutions ... SL User Group (MSDSLUG). Recognized as Microsoft’s official group for end users of ... SL software users, partners, industry experts and representatives. Intellitec Solutions’ membership status demonstrates ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... CBD College is proud to announce ... (CAAHEP) awarded accreditation to its Diagnostic Medical Sonography program. CBD College is honored to ... of twelve colleges and universities in the state of California make the cut. CBD ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/27/2015)... , Pays-Bas, November 27, 2015 ... l,immunothérapie au traitement photodynamique au Bremachlorin contre le ... nouvelle approche consistant à combiner l,immunothérapie au traitement ...    --> Une nouvelle approche ... Bremachlorin contre le cancer avancé.    ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... NEW YORK , November 27, 2015 ... health system is set to go online. The potential ... and processes is vast and far from fully exploited ... access to patient health records, either via mobile tablet ... ) --> ) ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... UTRECHT , Niederlande, November 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... mit fotodynamischer Bremachlorin-Therapie bei fortgeschrittenem Krebs.   ... fotodynamischer Bremachlorin-Therapie bei fortgeschrittenem Krebs.   --> ... fotodynamischer Bremachlorin-Therapie bei fortgeschrittenem Krebs.   ... berichtet. --> Clinical Cancer Research ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: