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Path to developing Indian Sign Language dictionary has many challenges

Over a year ago it was announced that an Indian Sign Language (ISL) dictionary would be launched by by the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC). The team working on the project says they are facing many challenges.

At a national conference by ISLRTC held in Delhi, efforts were made to finalise gestures assigned for words, which will be a part of the dictionary but there is plenty of work ahead.

This is because sign language like any other language has different dialects and the language changes from region to region, say experts. This makes it hard to get a consensus in the community to assign gesture for each word and hence the need for a standardised language is needed.

Recorded videos of signs and their meanings were presented to around 60 speech and hearing-impaired people from across India to know their views. The conference was attended by members of the community from various walks of life.

Many in the community are asking for a uniform sign language across India. To sensitise people about sign language, ISLRTC has come up with a one-year diploma in Indian Sign Language Interpretation (DISLI) course for hearing people with the minimum education level of class 12.

The ISLRTC is also working on a mobile-based dictionary app which will translate signs to words and vice versa. The team also plans to have animated characters translating announcements into sign language at public places.

Some innovative ideas were discussed like having images along with the sign and spelling of a word, developing multi-lingual finger spellings, and more. Until now 3000 words have been finalised that will be part of the ISL dictionary. These words are widely divided into five categories - daily usage, legal, technical, academic and medical words.

The deadline for compilation and publication of the dictionary has been extended to March 2018.

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