Center Papers

Teaching American Sign Language in mixed reality

Shao, Q., Sniffen, A., Blanchett, J., Hillis, M. E., Shi, X., Haris, T. K., Liu, J., Lamberton, J., Malzkuhn, M., Quandt, L. C., Mahoney, J., Kraemer, D. J. M., Zhou, X., & Balkcom, D. (2020). Teaching American Sign Language in mixed reality. In The Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies (IMWUT), 4, 152. DOI: 10.1145/3432211

This paper presents a holistic system to scale up the teaching and learning of vocabulary words of American Sign Language (ASL). The system leverages the most recent mixed-reality technology to allow the user to perceive her own hands in an immersive learning environment with first- and third-person views for motion demonstration and practice. Precise motion sensing is used to record and evaluate motion, providing real-time feedback tailored to the specific learner. As part of this evaluation, learner motions are matched to features derived from the Hamburg Notation System (HNS) developed by sign-language linguists. We develop a prototype to evaluate the efficacy of mixed-reality-based interactive motion teaching. Results with 60 participants show a statistically significant improvement in learning ASL signs when using our system, in comparison to traditional desktop-based, non-interactive learning. We expect this approach to ultimately allow teaching and guided practice of thousands of signs.