About American Sign Language
American Sign Language (ASL) is the preferred language of the Deaf in North America. As a visual-gestural language, it utilizes handshape, position, palm orientation, movement, and non-manual signals. There is no one-to-one correspondence between ASL and English, as some signs translate into English as phrases or sentences. A manual alphabet is used to fingerspell names, technical terms, and loan words.
At present, human ASL translators are essential for effective communication between Deaf and hearing presenters and their audiences. Skilled ASL translators are in high demand and often not available for brief interactions. As a consequence, communication between hearing and Deaf people may be impaired or made impossible, to the disadvantage of both groups.
An ASL avatar will make information affordably accessible to Deaf people, enabling them to understand spoken interactions and to participate in classes and meetings.
ASL is the preferred language of over 500,000 people in the United States. The DePaul project has exciting potential not only for Deaf Americans and those who interact with them but also as a prototype for communication between Deaf and hearing people around the world.