STORY: SIGN LANGUAGE SOFTWARE
LOCATION: LONDON, UK
DATE SHOT: JULY 26, 2001
TXN DATE: JULY 30, 2001
AUDIO: NATURAL SOUND AND ENGLISH SPEECH
ITEM: Electronic communicator that translates spoken word into sign language for deaf people goes on display at London's Science Museum.
SHOT LIST: (Science Museum, London, July 26, 2001)
SUGGESTED INTRO: British scientists in conjunction with the Post office have developed an electronic communicator which translates speech into sign language. A prototype has gone on display at London's Science Museum.
SCRIPT: Tomb Raider's Lara Croft has finally met her match. TESSA or the Text and Sign Support Assistant could be invaluable for deaf people and has already been adapted for the Post Office as one of the scientists behind the project explained.
"This is a system that we've developed for the UK Post Office and what they wanted was something which would aid the post office clerks in communicating with customers who use sign language as their primary form of communication. So what the system does is to take the speech of the counter clerk through a microphone, it's processed by a computer and using computer speech recognition it's turned into text and then, in turn, that text is converted into British Sign Language."
The Science Museum has its own Post office where TESSA is being used. At the moment it can only work one way from the counter to the screen. Sabina Chowdry tried it out. Her verdict?
"I think the system, really it seems good, but it still needs a lot of work to improve it. It's not perfect. It's not a perfect replacement and it's only one way communication so they're asking me questions, but if I sign back the staff don't know sign language so it could become a problem."
But when that problem is overcome - and researchers warn it could take some time - there's no doubting the potential of the communicator. It could open up a whole new world to the deaf and hard of hearing.