Automated Sign Language Translation: The Role of Artificial Intelligence Now and in the Future

Lea Baumgärtner, Stephanie Jauss, Johannes Maucher, Gottfried Zimmermann

Abstract

Sign languages are the primary language of many people worldwide. To overcome communication barriers between the Deaf and the hearing community, artificial intelligence technologies have been employed, aiming to develop systems for automated sign language recognition and generation. Particularities of sign languages have to be considered - though sharing some characteristics of spoken languages - since they differ in others. After providing the linguistic foundations, this paper gives an overview of state-of-the-art machine learning approaches to develop sign language translation systems and outlines the challenges in this area that have yet to be overcome. Obstacles do not only include technological issues but also interdisciplinary considerations of development, evaluation and adoption of such technologies. Finally, opportunities and future visions of automated sign language translation systems are discussed.

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