SignSynth: A Sign Language Synthesis Application Using Web3D and Perl

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 2298)


Sign synthesis (also known as text-to-sign) has recently seen a large increase in the number of projects under development. Many of these focus on translation from spoken languages, but other applications include dictionaries and language learning. I will discuss the architecture of typical sign synthesis applications and mention some of the applications and prototypes currently available. I will focus on SignSynth, a CGI-based articulatory sign synthesis prototype I am developing at the University of New Mexico. SignSynth takes as its input a sign language text in ASCII-Stokoe notation (chosen as a simple starting point) and converts it to an internal feature tree. This underlying linguistic representation is then converted into a three-dimensionala nimation sequence in Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML or Web3D), which is automatically rendered by a Web3D browser.


Sign Language Machine Translation American Sign Linguistic Representation Categorical Perception 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Gallaudet Research Institute: Stanford Achievement Test, 9th Edition, Form S, Norms Booklet for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students. Gallaudet University, Washington (1996)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Grieve-Smith, A.: English to American Sign Language Translation of Weather Reports. In: Nordquist, D. (ed): Proceedings of the Second High Desert Student Conference in Linguistics. High Desert Linguistics Society, Albuquerque. (to appear)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Verlinden, M., Tijsseling, C., Frowein, H: A signing Avatar on the WWW. This volume (2002)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    VCom3d: SigningAvatar Frequently Asked Questions. Available at 2000)
  5. 5.
    Liberman, A., Harris, K., Hoffman, H., Griffith, B.: The Discrimination of Speech Sounds Within and Across Phoneme Boundaries. Journalo f Experimental Psychology 34 (1957) 358–368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Newport, E.: Task Specificity in Language Learning? Evidence from Speech Perception and American Sign Language. In: Wanner, E. and Gleitman, L. (eds): Language Acquisition: The State of the Art Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1982)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Emmorey, K., McCullough, S., Brentari, D.: Categorical Perception in American Sign Language (to appear)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Klatt, D.: Review of Text-to-Speech Conversion for English. Journal of the Acoustic Society of America 82 (1987) 737–793CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Baker-Shenk, C., Cokely, D.: American Sign Language Gallaudet University Press, Washington (1991)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Sutton, V.: Lessons in SignWriting. SignWriting, La Jolla (1985)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Newkirk, D.: SignFont Handboook. Emerson and Associates, San Diego (1987)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Stokoe, W., Casterline, D., Croneberg, C.: A Dictionary of American Sign Language on Linguistic Principles. Linstok Press, Silver Spring (1965)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Mandel, M.: ASCII-Stokoe Notation: A Computer-Writeable Transliteration System for Stokoe Notation of American Sign Language. Available at (1983)
  14. 14.
    Newkirk, D.: Outline of a Proposed Orthography of American Sign Language. Available at (1986)
  15. 15.
    Prilliwitz, S., Leven, R., Zienert, H., Hanke, T., Henning, J.: HamNoSys, Version 2.0: Hamburg Notation System for Sign Languages-An Introductory Guide. Signum Press, Hamburg (1989)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Kennaway, R.: Synthetic Animation of Deaf Signing Gestures. This volume (2002)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Lebourque, T., Gibet, S.: A Complete System for the Specification and the Generation of Sign Language Gestures. In: Braffort, A. et al. (eds): Gesture-based Communication in Human Computer Interaction: InternationalG estureWorkshop, GW’99. Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence 1739. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg New York (1999) 227–238Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    da Rocha Costa, A. C., Pereira Dimuro, G.: A SignWriting-Based Approach to Sign Language Processing This volume. (2002)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Zhao, L., Kipper, K., Schuler, W., Vogler, C., Badler, N., Palmer, M.: A Machine Translation System from English to American Sign Language. Presented at the Association for Machine Translation in the Americas conference (2000)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Browman, C., Goldstein, L., Kelso, J. A. S., Rubin, P., Saltzman, E.: Articulatory Synthesis from Underlying Dynamics. Journal of the Acoustic Society of America 75 (1984) S22–S23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Roehl, B. (ed): Specification for a Standard VRML Humanoid. Available at (1998)
  22. 22.
    Schein, J. D., Delk, M. T.: The Deaf Population of the United States. National Association of the Deaf, Silver Spring (1974)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    McCloud, S.: Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. Harper Perennial, New York (1994)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Ohki, M., Sagawa, H., Sakiyama, T., Oohira, E., Ikeda, H., Fujisawa, H.: Pattern Recognition and Synthesis for Sign Language Transcription System. ASSETS 10 (1994) 1–8Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Lu, S., Igi, S., Matsuo, H., Nagashima, Y.: Towards a Dialogue System Based on Recognition and Synthesis of Japanese Sign Language. In:Wachsmuth, I., Fröhlich, M. (eds): International Gesture Workshop, GW’97. Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg New York (1997) 259–271Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    SignTel: How It Works Available at (2001)
  27. 27.
    Messing, L., Stern, G.: Sister Mary Article. Unpublished manuscript (1997)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Losson, O., Vannobel, J.-M.: Sign Specification and Synthesis. In: Braffort, A. et al. (eds): Gesture-based Communication in Human Computer Interaction: International Gesture Workshop, GW’ 99. Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence 1739. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg New York (1999) 227–238Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Liddell, S., Johnson, R.: American Sign Language: The Phonological Base. In: Valli, C., Lucas, C. (eds): Linguistics of American Sign Language: A Resource Text for ASL Users. Gallaudet University Press, Washington (1992)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Gibet, S., Marteau, F., Julliard, F.: Internal Models for Motion Control. This volume. (2002)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Tolani, D., Goswami, A., Badler, N.: Real-time Inverse Kinematics Techniques for Anthropomorphic Limbs. Available at (2000)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Linguistics DepartmentThe University of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA

Personalised recommendations