Saturday, November 23, 2019

STIP Student Frederick Olson becomes Involved in American Sign Language Translation Research

Hello, my name is Frederick Olson and I am a rising senior with a major in Information Technology. The project that I am working on relates to trying to research and develop a system that can translate American Sign Language (ASL for short) into a language understandable to the person receiving it. Currently, the focus is having a system understand ASL and be able to translate it into English. What got me interested with this project was the fact that it was a project around ASL. Most of my immediate family are either deaf or hard of hearing- they use ASL as their primary form of communication. Due to my parents being deaf, I also learned ASL as a child and it was my first language. However, I was born able to hear so I usually helped them by translating for them so that communication would be faster, and they would not have to waste their time writing back and forth on paper. I heard about an opportunity to do research with ASL to try and create a system that could understand ASL and translate it in real-time, so those who communicate using ASL could have instant communication with anyone. This aspect was the thing that pulled me in as I would love to have my parents, and many, others be able to communicate with the rest of the world without as many struggles.

The goal for me in this project was to see if I would want to continue doing something like this, or if my passion/interests lies elsewhere. As for what I did, my part on the project was to collect data. For example, I would be recording myself weekly doing certain signs so that those developing the system would be able to have data to train and test on. One thing I learned is that, even if it seems that all you are doing is one thing that seems simple to you, it still can mean so much to the rest of the bigger picture being doing data collection seems simple, but without it the developers are unable to even run and test the system in the first place.