Students of UvA receive €100,000 for sign language project

May 10, 2021

Master students of the UvA and University of Oslo received €100,000 for the DITA project to bridge the communication gap between users of sign language and society. The DITA project, located in Demonstrator Lab, was awarded the STUD-ENT grant from the Research Council of Norway last April.

There is a communication gap between users of sign language and the use of verbal language in the majority of society. As a result, users of sign language have less accessibility to common communication forms such as news, information channels, literature, television and radio. These circumstances heavily restrict the individuals’ opportunities to be immersed in society and culture, often leading to social isolation, exclusion and loss of opportunity.

DITA: software package to translate verbal language

In order to bridge this communication gap, the entrepreneurs are working on DITA, the Deep Immersive Transcription Adapter, a software package that translates verbal language from any audio-, text-, or image file into sign language. DITA builds upon recent advancements in the field of Natural language processing, machine learning and animation technology.  By improving and creating access to information, education, and entertainment, users of sign language face less barriers to participate on cultural and social platforms. This will provide the individual with more control in their life situation, and an improved quality of life.

More socially sustainable society

In the long term, the DITA project hopes to create a more socially sustainable society. They hope that DITA will dismantle the high threshold for people with hearing disabilities to participate in educational platforms and the workforce. The normalization of a product of DITAs nature will help to build more awareness surrounding the inclusion of sign language users and improve perspectives on disability as a social problem and not only a problem of the individual. As such, DITA will contribute to a better life for some, but improving a sense of community and dismantling incorrect attitudes towards disability for all. DITA has the potential to significantly reduce the tension in democratic and linguistic human rights currently transpiring globally.