American Sign Language


A Case Study of Mentoring Deaf Academics: The PAH!* (Success) Academic Writing Retreat

ID: 4084
School: School of Language, Education, and Culture
Program: American Sign Language
Status: Completed
Start date: October 2020
End Date: January 2021

Description

While the goal of increasing numbers of underrepresented faculty members, especially Deaf professionals, has been accomplished to some extent, many are stymied in publishing their dissertation findings in peer-reviewed journals, and therefore have difficulty earning tenure. To address this need, a case study approach was utilized to investigate the development of Deaf professionals’ academic writing during a five-day writing retreat. This paper discusses specific academic writing challenges including organizing ideas, finding an appropriate journal, editing, submitting, as well as handling peer reviews, rejections, and revisions. Information is provided on the final writing products, types of support, guidance, and mentorship that were employed. Findings showed that 75% of papers worked on during the retreat were successfully published in peer-reviewed journals. The importance of published work by Deaf scholars and plans for future retreats are described.

Principal investigators

Additional investigators

Priorities addressed

Approved Products

2021

Marchut, A. , Pudans-Smith, K. , Gietz, M. , Andrews, J. and Clark, M. (2021) A Case Study of Mentoring Deaf Academics: The PAH!* (Success) Academic Writing Retreat. Creative Education, 12, 176-192. doi: 10.4236/ce.2021.121013.


Assessing the Effectiveness of Can-Do Statements for ASL

ID: 4087
School: School of Language, Education, and Culture
Program: American Sign Language
Status: Ongoing
Start date: October 2020
End Date: September 2022

Description

This research project examines the NCCSL/ACTFL Can-Do Statements to determine whether they are an effective tool for assessing ASL students’ language proficiency. The literature shows little evidence on the effectiveness of the Can-Do statements (Tigchelaar et al., 2017). Language instructors and experts used their shared experiences and beliefs as the basis to create can-do statements. None of them represented ASL and that means current Can-Do statements are largely centered on one particular modality - written/spoken. As ACTFL has recognized ASL and its visual/manual modality, they inserted ‘signed’ into all proficiency benchmarks next to “spoken” and “written”. However, their Can-Do statements have not been modified accordingly which has a potential impact on the effectiveness of Can-Do statements for ASL students. This presentation will share preliminary findings based on survey responses, self assessments, and video recordings by ASL students who enrolled in upper level ASL courses from three universities.

Principal investigators

Priorities addressed

Approved Products

2021

Pudans-Smith, K.K., Buchanan, B., Pirone, J. S., Hauschildt, S. and MacGlaughlin, H. M. (2021, August 1). Assessing the Effectiveness of Can-Do Statements for ASL. American Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA). ASLTA Virtual Conference.


How2Sign: A Large-scale Multimodal Dataset for Continuous American Sign Language.

ID: 4108
School: School of Language, Education, and Culture
Program: American Sign Language
Status: Completed
Start date: January 2021
End Date: December 2021

Description

One of the factors that have hindered progress in the areas of sign language recognition, translation, and production is the absence of large annotated datasets. Towards this end, we introduce How2Sign, a multimodal and multiview continuous American Sign Language (ASL) dataset, consisting of a parallel corpus of more than 80 hours of sign language videos and a set of corresponding modalities including speech, English transcripts, and depth. A three-hour subset was further recorded in the Panoptic studio enabling detailed 3D pose estimation. To evaluate the potential of How2Sign for real-world impact, we conduct a study with ASL signers and show that synthesized videos using our dataset can indeed be understood. The study further gives insights on challenges that computer vision should address in order to make progress in this field.

Principal investigators

Priorities addressed

Approved Products

2021

De Haan, K., Duarte, A., Ghadiyaram, D., Giro-i-Nieto, X., Metze, F., Palaskar, S., Torres, J., & Ventura, L. (2021, June 17). How2Sign: A Large-scale Multimodal Dataset for Continuous American Sign Language. In the 2021 IEEE/CVF Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), June 17, 2021, Virtually. http://cvpr2021.thecvf.com


Reducing Language Obstacles Deaf Students Face When Developing Scientific Competencies

ID: 4105
School: School of Language, Education, and Culture
Program: American Sign Language
Status: Ongoing
Start date: February 2021
End Date: December 2021

Description

People who identify as Deaf or Hard of Hearing (Deaf/HoH) are highly underrepresented in research. (1) For example, only 1.3% of the 39,435 doctorates awarded in 2017 went to people who were Deaf/HoH. (2,3) Moreover, only 40% of Deaf/HoH adults earned doctorates in life sciences, physical sciences, or engineering compared to 78% of hearing individuals. (4) This Momentum Fund Teaming seeks to address this disparity by bringing together for the first time experts in Deaf studies, artificial intelligence, communication science, and biomedical informatics. Our team includes faculty from the School of Medicine (SOM: Boyce), School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (HRS: Pratt), School of Computing and Information (SCI: Alikhani), and co-investigator from the Department of American Sign Language and Deaf Studies at Gallaudet University (GU: Kenneth De Haan). This project proposal is the result of a collaboration that began three years ago with the goal of increasing the inclusion of Deaf/HoH students in biomedical science education at the University of Pittsburgh. Deaf/HoH students face significant obstacles to advancing in STEM including issues in accommodations, self-advocacy, and establishment of a support system.4–6 The degree to which these obstacles present insurmountable barriers varies greatly. This is because the Deaf/HoH are highly diverse in many respects, including the etiology of deafness, possible benefits of auditory interventions, necessary exposure and acquisition to ASL and English, and access to accommodations. (4) Our Momentum Fund Teaming project will develop and test a novel technology that supports Deaf/HoH students while learning biomedical topics using material available on the internet including educational videos, scientific articles, and websites. We hypothesize that interactively linking highly visual material to specific terms and phrases in existing online learning materials will improve students’ topic comprehension. Our long-term goal is to develop a scalable technological intervention that is effective at reducing the language barriers Deaf/HoH students face when developing scientific competencies. The basis for the intervention will be a novel combination of methods from Deaf studies, communication sciences, multimodal learning, artificial intelligence, and computational linguistics.

Principal investigators

Additional investigators

  • Alikhani, Malihe • School of Science and technology • University of Pittsburgh
  • Boone, David • UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Academy • University of Pittsburgh
  • Pratt, Sheila • school of health and rehabilitation sciences • University of Pittsburgh

Priorities addressed

Funding sources

Approved Products

2021

Boyce, R., DeHaan, K., Pratt, S., Alikhani, M., & Boone, D. (2021). Reducing Language Obstacles Deaf Students Face When Developing Scientific Competencies.


Signed Coreference Resolution

ID: 4107
School: School of Language, Education, and Culture
Program: American Sign Language
Status: Ongoing
Start date: June 2021
End Date: December 2021

Description

Coreference resolution is key to many natural language processing tasks and yet has only been explored for spoken languages. In signed languages, space is primarily used to establish reference. Solving coreference resolution for signed languages would not only enable higher level Sign Language Processing systems, but also enhance our understanding of language in different modalities and of situated references, which are key problems in studying grounded language. In this paper, we: (1) introduce Signed Coreference Resolution, a new challenge for coreference modeling and Sign Language Processing; (2) collect an annotated corpus of German Sign Language with gold labels for coreference together with an annotation software for the task; (3) explore features of hand gesture, iconicity, and spatial situated properties and move forward to propose a set of linguistically informed heuristics and unsupervised models for the task; (4) put forward several proposals about ways to address the complexities of this challenge effectively. Finally, we invite the NLP community to collaborate with signing communities and direct efforts towards SCR to close this gap.

Principal investigators

Additional investigators

  • Yin, Kayo • Language Technologies Institute • Carnegie Mellon University

Priorities addressed

Approved Products

2021

De Haan, K., Alikhani, M. & Yin, K. (2021). Signed Coreference Resolution.


The Climate of the ASL Profession: ASL Pedagogy, Curriculum, and Assessment.

ID: 4086
School: School of Language, Education, and Culture
Program: American Sign Language
Status: Ongoing
Start date: October 2020
End Date: September 2022

Description

ASL is one of the most widely studied languages in the United States, especially in secondary and postsecondary education. The literature is scant on ASL pedagogy, curriculum, and assessment. The standard was not established in the field of ASL profession specifically focusing on ASL pedagogy, curriculum, and assessment (Rosen, 2010; Quinto-Pozos, 2011). Most ASL professionals focus primarily on ASL pedagogy and less on engaging in research to identify best practices for teaching ASL as an L2 (Quinto-Pozos, 2011; Cooper, Reisman, & Watson, 2008). A lack of standards and empirical evidence raises a concern about how that affects the current quality of our ASL profession. In order to address the concern, we conduct a series of focus group discussions with ASL experts and a nationwide survey to build a better understanding of the climate of ASL profession concerning pedagogy, curriculum, and assessment. For our presentation, we share preliminary results and interpretations of our data collection.

Principal investigators

Additional investigators

Priorities addressed

Approved Products

2021

Pudans-Smith, K.K., Pirone, J. S., Ivy, T. and Listman, J. D. (2021, July 31). The Climate of the ASL Profession: ASL Pedagogy, Curriculum, and Assessment. American Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA). ASLTA Virtual Conference.