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Related people/organizations

Ya-Han Tsui (designer)
Anthony Jesse Deen (thesis advisor)
Chris Prentice (thesis advisor)




Technology and design have enhanced human communication across the globe. However, due to time and budget limitations, they have not reached their full potential to benefit some minority groups, such as the deaf community. Focusing on the American deaf community, prior researches indicates that translation between American Sign Language (ASL) and English is as complicated as English with any other foreign languages; ASL is a developed language with different regional varieties. The fundamental problem being, lacking of a complete and up-to-date ASL database.

Inspired by Wikipedia, which has grown more than 16 million articles in nine years in 262 different languages and is still growing, Tracey Project is an online project which will use the internet’s crowd sourcing power to build a comprehensive and up-to-date ASL database to help further ASL natural language processing (NLP) technology research. We break down signs into their basic elements such as hand shapes, hand orientations, positions of the hand relative to the body, movement, facial expression and etc. Using illustrations to demonstrate these different sign elements, we invite users to use our online selection form to build signs by selecting the appropriate illustrations. Users can also enter cultural references and definition. Culture reference and definition can help with future NLP technology, since some NLP computer intelligence is starting translate sentences with context. As a quick demonstration of this database’s possibility with NLP, this website also contains a NLP web application that translate simple English sentence to ASL sentences drawing from the database. This project will directly benefit and inspire more participation in ASL communication technology research.




Ya-Han Tsui. Tracey Project. 2011. Parsons School of Design MFA Design and Technology program theses; 2011. New School Archives and Special Collections Digital Archive. Web. 07 Dec 2019.

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