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Sign language by phone

The first device to transmit American Sign Language (ASL) by phone is being developed by researchers in America.

Engineers at the University of Washington are currently testing the tool, which uses video technology to transmit the signs. The field test is aimed at seeing how people use the technology in their everyday lives, with the aim of putting it into general use. Called MobileASL, the technology compresses video signals and increases image quality around the face and hands to make calls easier and quicker.

So far the results have been positive:

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.” (Source: Science Daily)

A larger field study will be conducted this winter, so it’s definitely a development worth keeping in mind.