Realizing the importance of Indian Sign Language Dictionary – Times of India

The Indian Sign Language (ISL) is going to be an extension as Modi recently published an Indian Sign Language Dictionary of 10,000 words. The dictionary, along with the NCERT textbook at ISL’s accessible teaching-learning institution, will benefit special needs students, their teachers, parents and even the general public who want to learn a new language like ISL. These resources will also encourage the use of Indian sign language across the country and thereby motivate inclusive education, “said Sharita Sharma, Assistant Professor, Department of Linguistics at Central Language Linguistics, Central University of Rajasthan (CURAJ), India. Member of the Task Force Committee on Sign Language Standardization, Ministry of Education (MOE).

What is ISL?


The Indian sign language is not only a means of communication for the hearing-impaired, it is a symbol of their pride and identity. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act 2016, which came into force on April 1, 2001, recognizes sign language as a means of communication that is particularly useful for people with hearing impairments. The law further directs the government to encourage the use of sign language to enable hearing-impaired people to participate and contribute to their community and society.


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“But it would be unreasonable to assume that a sign language is only for the hearing impaired, because it can be used by everyone to make our society more inclusive and accessible. ISL has grown from 4,000 words to 10,000 words and has developed objectives for greater implementation, “said Gaurab Raheja, Professor and Head, Department of Architecture and Planning and Professor, Inclusion and Accessibility Services, IIT Roorkee. Engaged.


Raheja added that the ISLT has been created for the purpose of relevant research and for the benefit of the Indian landscape. Other well-known formats of sign language include the American sign language, which uses a single hand system, and the British sign language, which uses two hand systems similar to the Indian sign language. “The choice of words or vocabulary preferences for India is well defined by the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Center (ISLRTC) and there is a range of words for everyday use, including representations from different regional contexts in India (such as Bihar, Uttarakhand, etc.). The range of legal conditions, ”Raheja explained.


Creating an ISL dictionary was not a task and involved involving “lexicography and good practice of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) – where a set of principles provides a framework for teachers to create visits. “All students have different needs. “It is the equivalent of most Western sign language dictionaries and has been created by both hearing-impaired and hearing-impaired workers,” Sharma said.

Professor V Srinivas Chakraborty of IIT Madras elaborated on the effectiveness of such a dictionary, saying, “In addition to enriching the vocabulary of children with special needs and their ability to convey their thoughts efficiently to other parts of the world, such a dictionary provides a common ‘visual gesture’ for human communication.” This is especially important when students move from different schools to colleges for higher studies, “said Chakraborty, who brought Mudrabharati from TCS in collaboration with Sunil Kapparapur, an ISL finger-spelling system based on phonetic similarities between the head and the Indian script. Project collaborator, Amal Jude Ashwin, has created an AI-based system that can convert a signature video in Mudrabharati into moving text.


Digital medium

“A digital dictionary that plays the video of the sign and explains its meaning would be better than a conventional paper-based one. Another desired development is to create an AI-based tool that can convert 10,000 symbols into words in the new ISL dictionary and it is a tool as a mobile app. After all, it is not easy for a person to see hardcopies of 10,000 symbols, ”said Chakraborty.

Extensive access

In terms of broadening the dictionary, Sharma explained that it is freely available on open source platforms like YouTube and Dixar. While most schools have access to these resources, especially for students with disabilities, in epidemics, the education of children with special needs is interrupted by physical classes due to digital and socio-economic divisions. Sharma called for making a dictionary app available in all schools for students of special schools, while the government could also distribute dictionary pre-loaded digital tablets or smart phones so that those without access or medium are not left behind.

Faculty equipped

Over the past few years, several schools have tried to include qualified teachers with hearing disabilities to teach children with special needs. Schools have hired ISL interpreters to assist in the teaching-learning process. “The Indian Rehabilitation Council (RCI) has introduced teacher training courses such as the Diploma in Teaching Indian Sign Language (DTISL) which is exclusively for students with hearing impairments. RSI’s BEd special education course has also changed its curriculum to include ISL modules. Sharma said the current teachers have been trained in Indian Sign Language by the government and other agencies.

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