Gunilla Wagstrom, the “world’s first deaf tv producer”, and Ingeborg Swartlingare from Swedish Educational Broadcasting are giving a presentation about a project called teckensprakswebben.
They’ve created a website that helps people to learn Swedish sign language more easily. Navigation is done by clicking on themed station names along a flash based subway map. So, for example, sport or kultur.
Once within the themed area, there are around twenty words, each signed by one of forty-five notable person such as well known television presenters, the wife of the Prime Minister, and others. The video can also be sent to mobile phones.
The idea behind the project came from who Ingeborg who, at the beginning of the presentation, told us that she met a deaf man several years ago and wanted to get to know him but didn’t know how to ask him to go to the theatre (which is signed in Sweden) or for other activities. She thought that if there were short videos available online it would be easier to learn specific signs.
I think the idea of arranging language around themes, and mapping those themes to a subway map, could be useful for spoken language instruction as well – but Gunilla sees her own future, one in which everyone can sign, which has the advantage of ensuring even the busiest public places remain quiet, people can chat as much as they like during films and performances, and even scuba divers can communicate.