The Weekly Roundup 30/01/20

Sign Languages: Their past, present and future

For something that is used by an estimated 70 million people worldwide, there is still a lot we don’t know when it comes to the origin of sign language - luckily research is being done to change that. Going from the past to the future, Google Translate is developing a way to translate sign language into speech and we are excited about the possibilities that this brings for, well, everyone!

Google’s AI Can Translate Sign Language Into Speech

Image courtesy of Google Translate
Image courtesy of Google Translate

In what we consider to be a really exciting achievement, Google Translate has developed the ability to translate sign language into speech.

“This means that in theory, this piece of software would allow those with speech issues to communicate more easily with others who might not know sign language. This is done by using a camera coupled with software that can track the movement and gestures of the user’s hand and interpret it accordingly.”

While the technology is still being tested, we can’t wait for it to make it’s debut. With sign language being used by an estimated 70 million people worldwide, we can only imagine the world of opportunity this would open for those using sign language being able to communicate with those who don’t.

Read more here

‘Evolutionary History’ Of Sign Language Uncovered

Discovering the origins of sign language
Discovering the origins of sign language

Researchers have traced the origins of sign language back to six European languages. “A new study suggests these sign language lineages are made up of three larger groups of Austrian, British and French origin, as well as three smaller groups of Spanish, Swedish and Russian origin. They believe that the six European lineages dispersed to other parts of the world, beginning in the late 18th Century.”

Author of the study, Justin Power states that while there are many studies around the origin of spoken language, the study of sign language is lacking beyond historical accounts of deaf students and their teachers. This research delves further into how sign language originated and how it was first used back in Europe in the late 18th century.

Read more here


Being advocates for sign language (and language in general!), we believe that open captions is imperative for the deaf community and those who are hard of hearing to be able to experience the world like everyone else.

We are also big fans of Open Captions which work very well. Using VideoTranslator we can transcribe the content and embed them into video. Take a look at why we think open captions are important here.

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