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Digital tools for sign language research: towards recognition and comparison of lexical signs

On the 9th of April, Manolis Fragkiadakis successfully defended a doctoral thesis. The Leiden University Centre for Linguistics congratulates Manolis on this achievement!

Manolis Fragkiadakis
09 April 2024
Leiden University Repository

Contrary to common belief, sign languages are distinct across different communities and cultures, evolving organically through interactions among deaf people, rather than being based on spoken languages. Each sign language has its own grammar, vocabulary, and cultural nuances, with variations even within a single country, showcasing the diverse communication methods within the deaf community. 

Deaf individuals often face encouragement to use spoken language techniques like lipreading or text communication, highlighting a bias towards spoken languages. This is compounded by the lack of sign languages in linguistic technologies, emphasizing the need for more inclusive research and development. 

This dissertation aims to address this gap using machine and deep learning to improve sign language processing and recognition. It covers six chapters, introducing methods for video-based sign annotation, webcam-based sign language dictionary search, and ranking systems for sign suggestions. It also explores tools for visualizing and comparing sign language variation, contributing valuable resources to linguistic research.

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