StorySign – launching a mobile app for deaf children and their families

sign language interpreting

It’s been an exciting few weeks at Comtec as we’ve been involved in a really innovative project that will help deaf children and their families enjoy reading together. Huawei Mobile has launched an app that can be used with a conventional storybook, which helps deaf children to read while at the same time getting visual clues with sign language.

This inspiring new app is available in ten languages and can be used with popular children’s stories from Penguin Random House.

Have a look at the video below which explains more about the StorySign app.

StorySign is powered by Huawei AI (Artificial Intelligence) and has been designed by Aardman Animations (of Wallace and Gromit fame). ‘Star’ the animated avatar that signs the story, started life in a London studio with a team of deaf actors, sign language interpreters and language interpreters. That’s where we fit in!

Sign language interpreting

With only a few weeks before the studio booking to shoot the motion capture for Star, we were tasked with finding deaf actors in the key markets, and a sign language interpreting team.

You may be surprised to learn that there’s no truly internationally recognised sign language. While there are some common signs that are used in different languages, each spoken language has developed its own sign language. So British Sign Language (BSL) is quite different to Portuguese Sign Language. We therefore needed to recruit deaf actors who could accurately sign each language version of the books in the StorySign library.

As well as the actors who wore the motion capture suit and signed each book, we also needed a team of sign language interpreters (in their native language) to interpret instructions from the Aardman Animations crew. On top of that, as our sign language interpreters were not necessarily fluent in English, we recruited language interpreters to ensure that the sign language interpreter understood the directions clearly!

Quite a complex job to find such a specialist team of people and get them all to London for the motion capture shoot!

Comtec was also involved in the video above, casting the Father Christmases for each market and ensuring that sign language interpreters and, when needed, language interpreters could facilitate communication between the crew and the actors. Comtec also translated the script and provided subtitling services for this launch video.

You may have noticed that some of the video was shot in Lapland, which was another part of this exciting project! I was invited to fly to Lapland to support our interpreting team, but more about this in another blog…!

I think you’ll agree that this is a really exciting and valuable project and we’re delighted to have played a part in making it happen. Watch out for my ‘behind the scenes’ blog post later this week, where I’ll share more details about the language challenges of the project, and my trip to Lapland.

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