Learning to Generate Understandable Animations of American Sign Language

Join CLS at 4:30pm on Thursday, November 17th in Hamilton 306 for a talk by Matt Huenerfauth, entitled “Learning to Generate Understandable Animations of American Sign Language”. Refreshments will be provided. Hope to see you there!

A detailed abstract follows:

A majority of deaf high school graduates in the U.S. have a fourth-grade English reading level or below, and so computer-generated animations of American Sign Language (ASL) could make more information and services accessible to these individuals.  Instead of presenting English text on websites or computer software, information could be conveyed in the form of animations of virtual human characters performing ASL (produced by a computer through automatic translation software or by an ASL-knowledgable human scripting the animation).  Unfortunately, getting the details of such animations accurate enough linguistically so that they are clear and understandable is difficult, and methods are needed for automating the creation of high-quality ASL animations.

This talk will discuss my lab’s research, which is at the intersection of the fields of assistive technology for people with disabilities, computational linguistics, and the linguistics of ASL.  Our methodology includes: experimental evaluation studies with native ASL signers, motion-capture data collection of an ASL corpus, linguistic analysis of this corpus, statistical modeling techniques, and animation synthesis technologies.  In this way, we investigate new models that underlie the accurate and natural movements of virtual human characters performing ASL; our current work focuses on modeling how signers use 3D points in space and how this affects the hand-movements required for ASL verb signs.

About the Speaker:

Matt Huenerfauth is an assistant professor of computer science and linguistics at the City University of New York (CUNY); his research focuses on the design of computer technology to benefit people who are deaf or have low levels of written-language literacy.  He serves as an associate editor of the ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing, the major computer science journal in the field of accessibility for people with disabilities.  In 2008, he received a five-year Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation to support his research.  In 2005 and 2007, he received the Best Paper Award at the ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility, the major computer science conference on assistive technology for people with disabilities; he is serving as general chair for this conference in 2012.  He received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 2006.





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