Automated Sign Language Production is the automatic translation from a spoken language to a sign language. The ultimate goal would be to automatically produce a video of a signer that is indistinguishable from a real person. If done well, this could be an important technology for the Deaf community, increasing the quantity of sign language content available. But of course, generating translations of the same quality as a human interpreter is extremely challenging.
Previous work into computational sign language has mainly focused on the recognition of sign language from a video, or a translation to spoken language, the opposite task from production. However, recognition is more applicable to the hearing, as it allows them to understand the Deaf. A native sign language user does not need a system that recognises sign. However, systems that can accurately translate and produce sign would be of use to the Deaf. Not to replace human interpreters, but to provide translation into native sign language when an interpreter is not available.
In the Content4All project, we having been working on an initial technology for automatic sign language production, starting with a focus on comprehension of the productions rather than the visual quality. We have utilised the state of the art research in deep learning and machine translation to develop a prototype that translates from German to DGS within a limited topic. The current production is in the form of a skeleton signer, with the body, hand and face joints matching the movements of a signer.
This is very much a work in progress and we know that a lot more work is required before the technology can be used by the end user. However, we believe it is important to get early feedback from the Deaf community on our sign language production technology, in order to appreciate how understandable our current productions are and how they can be improved. We believe the Deaf communities should be empowered and be involved in all steps of the development of any technology that is targeting their native languages. Hence, we created this survey to get your invaluable feedback and to guide the next steps of the research. Initially we are focusing on understandable sign language production and we would appreciate your opinions on the comprehension of sign rather than the look of the avatar. We greatly value your input into our technology and by completing this survey we will strive to take all opinions on board. Check the survey in the survey tab on our website… Update note: The survey is now closed, thank you for your participation!
On the 8th of February 2019, the first open forum was held in Antwerp for stakeholders in the field of media and cultural accessibility to exchange insights and learn about the latest technologies and IT solutions that can enhance accessibility to both recorded media and live cultural events. At the event, Content4All was able to present its project and objectives.
Over 90 participants from 6 countries joined during the first edition of this one-day event, which brought together a range of stakeholders in the field of media and cultural accessibility – researchers, trainers, translators, tech companies, media companies, cultural venues, service providers, broadcasters, users, user organisations, policy makers, NGO’s, and more.
The opportunities and challenges of technological innovation for accessibility services in the media and cultural sectors were discussed during three keynote speeches, 6 stands in the exhibition space and 5 presentations.
The coordinators of the H2020 projects ImAc, EasyTV, Content4ALL and SIGN-HUB invited different stakeholders of European accessibility groups to a public session of the workshop “Beyond Media and Convergence accessibility cluster: a European perspective on accessibility”. This took place within the Accessibility Cluster as part of the Media Convergence and Social Media Concertation Meeting organized by the European Commission.
The workshop was jointly organized by the coordinators of the H2020 projects with the aim of presenting the goals of their projects, actual achievements and future developments. This facilitated networking and interaction among the project coordinators and selected distinguished stakeholders, among which policy makers, user organization representatives and European Commission representatives. The workshop took place on Tuesday February 5th in Brussels.
In these days Vienna is hosting the ITU-EC Forum for Europe on “Accessible Europe: ICT for ALL” . It is a regional event jointly organized by the Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and European Commission (EC), and hosted by United Nations Vienna.
Accessible Europe is held within the framework of the implementation of the Regional Initiative for Europe on Accessibility, affordability and skills development for all to ensure digital inclusion and sustainable development adopted by the World Telecommunication Development Conference 2017 and aiming at bridging the digital divide and equip all groups of society, including persons with disabilities and specific needs, to take advantage of ICT, by enabling capacity building in digital skills source: https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Regional-Presence/Europe/Pages/Events/2018/AE/AccessibleEurope.aspx
CONTENT4ALL was mentioned as one of the H2020 ICT-19 EC funded projects in the “Accessibility Cluster”.
On October 3-5 CONTENT4ALL attended the “Languages and the Media” conference in Berlin, in particualr SwissTXT, Fincons Group and HFC were there.
SwissTXT had the possibility of presenting CONTENT4ALL within the session “About workflows and tools”, in a speech titled “Remote Live Puppeteering to Provide Live Signing”, which received a good welcome.
In addition to that, SwissTXT also took part in the Panel “Quality in media accessibility: current issues and future challenges” where a particular emphasis was given the role of end-users in defining quality.
Together with CONTENT4ALL, representative of other EU funded projects on Accessibility were on stage or interacting among the public, among others:
The International Broadcasting Convention, more commonly known by its acronym IBC, is an annual trade show, held in September at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. IBC’s tagline is “The World’s Most Influential Media, Entertainment & Technology Show” and is aimed at broadcasters, content creators/providers, equipment manufacturers, professional and technical associations, and other participants in the broadcasting, entertainment and technology industry.
Content4All was represented on the booth of SwissTXT in the exhibition area. A full description of the project was explained and people with interest in accessibility were professional guided by Robin Ribback, representative in the Content4All project.
CONTENT4ALL proposal was successfully evaluated by the team of the Vertigo project and now CONTENT4ALL is listed among the possible projects artists can apply to. Artists have time until March 2nd to propose their concept, then the Vertigo project jury will select the winning artists and match them with the different winning projects. We expect artists to start their collaboration at the beginning of 2019.
On the 13th of November, the consortium of Content4All was welcomed at Fraunhofer in Germany. For this occasion, HFC had invited Rafael, an amiable deaf person who has been working as signer for the daily news shows of ZDF and ARD. Rafael immersed the consortium in the world of signing: from the history, to the linguistic structure of sign language. Moreover, we were able to take our first steps in signing ourselves. At the end of the day, the consortium went home inspired and with a deeper understanding of sign language.
On October 17th, 2017 the coordinator of CONTENT4ALL participated in the workshop “Collaboration Towards the Future of Media” in Bruxelles. The workshop gathered together all coordinators of projects founded under the call ICT-19-2017: Media and content convergence.
CONTENT4ALL presented a poster summing up the main project goals and technologies and could identify possible collaboration with other projects. In particular, during the parallel session, CONTENT4ALL was included into the “Accessibility” cluster, together with the ImAC project (http://www.imac-project.eu/) and the EasyTV project (http://easytvproject.eu)
The cluster discussed around the following topics and decided for common dissemination activities in the future.
Privacy and trust specific challenges
Exploitation of social networks and platforms
Opportunities for joint innovation, impact and exploitation in your cluster
Recommendations for future media policy (regulations, FP9) from the