How you as a company or public authority can break new digital ground to meet updated digital accessibility legislation in the short term!
Latest insights into research on the avatar-based voice assistant for automated sign translation.
Following on from the Disability Equality Act (BGG, Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz), updated on June 2, 2021, and the Barrier-Free Information Technology Ordinance (BITV, Barrierefreie-Informationstechnik-Verordnung), updated on May 21, 2019, the Barrier-Free Accessibility Act (BFG, Barrierefreiheitsgesetz) or Barrier-Free Strengthening Act (BFSG, Barrierefreiheitsstärkungsgesetz) of July 16, 2021, passed by the German Bundestag, implements an EU directive to reduce barriers to accessing information and communication.
With the goal of making everyday digital applications via computer, tablet, smartphone, ATM or ticket machine accessible, companies and public authorities must accordingly provide a digital infrastructure without barriers.
Charamel is leading a joint project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to develop an AI-based automated sign translation tool (AVASAG).
Alexander Stricker, Charamel Managing Director, comments on the project as follows: "It is a great concern for us to break new ground in this exciting research project together with the sign community and research partners. In this way, we can contribute our know-how in the field of socio-empathic human-machine communication, which we have built up over the years, in order to ensure the comprehensive participation of people who depend on signs. With the current development in legislation, politics is additionally setting the course here and obliging authorities and companies to act!"
As we learn further, the sign animation method is currently available as a real alternative to sign video as a flexible and digital solution to include relevant content on pages of, for example, insurance companies, banks, public authorities and in e-commerce.
Current practice is to record translations as video with the support of real sign language interpreters. This helps a little, but in the long run it is only suitable for long-term integrated texts and static information. In addition, only individual contents are translated, since video productions are expensive.
The AVASAG development relies on a fully automated dynamic translation of text into sign language. With the help of artificial intelligence, the machine is trained to generate the correct display parameters for the text to be translated. These so-called sign streams are then mapped via an innovative form of sign animation using a web-based 3D avatar. This enables content such as information or help texts or learning modules to be displayed in sign using virtual avatars. In this way, deaf people can have the content translated by the avatar in real time. The time-consuming production process is eliminated and costs are saved.
A solution is envisioned that works like common language translators or reading tools: with text input and sign output. Such sign translators can be used in many ways, for example internally for employees in the form of sign learning modules with avatars as output medium or externally for customers on apps, terminals, any visual user interfaces, etc. with service sign avatars. This not only meets legal requirements, but also ensures broader participation.
For fewer communication barriers and more participation, internationally leading research and development partners are working together in the joint project AVASAG. With a focus on the corresponding special field, Charamel GmbH leads the consortium and will further exploit the developments. Partners are in the field of UX, Ergosign GmbH; sign language, yomma GmbH; in the field of artificial intelligence, German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence GmbH (DFKI) Saarbrücken; the Augsburg University, Chair for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence and the Cologne University of Applied Sciences (TH Köln), Institute for Media and Photo Technology (IMP).
A related TV report (1:50-14:10) of the magazine "Sehen statt Hören" from Bayerischer Rundfunk can be found at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuXu9EaenqQ&t=111 or at the end of this article.
Want to produce expressive and easily modifiable digital content in signs (DGS, Deutsche Gebärdensprache, or GSL, German Sign Language) with avatars? Learn more in our free info-webinar and/or contact us:
Your Charamel Team/ Ingmar Dorp
Head of Marketing & Sales
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Fon: +49 221 33664 25
Aachener Str. 60-62
50674 Cologne, Germany