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Avatar Assistance Comes to the Deaf Community

Sound-based language falls out of the spectrum of the non-hearing. That's why sign language provides such a valuable asset to this population. It ends up that avatar-based sign language is on the near horizon. Also referred to as online animated character display, this version of sign language was recently experimented with in Germany by a group of computer scientists. This version of sign language aids members of the deaf community with the capability to interface on the internet.

While deaf interpreters have been available to translate online content, this new innovation helps the deaf and hearing impaired when no interpreter is available. By using the avatar, information at bus and train stations could be conveyed for those who can't hear announcements. Internet content could be provided in the same fashion. While the initial uses may be limited until they work out the kinks, researchers already have their sights on future applications of avatar content communication for the deaf and hard of hearing.

To overcome the lack of emotional range, researchers are developing avatars that can display a variety of facial expressions and movements; similar to human body language. A non-hearing lecturer named Peter Schaar is helping developers to better understand how to bridge the gaps in communication to this special population.

They have developed a way to have the avatars display body movements that flow more like humans, but without the ambiguity that has thwarted prior avatar usage in the past. The cost-effectiveness of this platform is a high priority. In regards to next steps, developers are working on a way to provide a catalog of web-enabled message sequences for this community.

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