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Accessibility & Assistive Technology

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In this article, the authors deal with the machine translation of written English text to sign language. They study the existing systems and issues in order to propose an implantation of a statistical machine translation from written English text to American Sign Language (English/ASL) taking care of several features of sign language.

The theme of this year’s conference GREAT’2018 is Inclusive Computer Technology (ICT) and Assistive Technology (AT) with a focus on 4 domains: Education, Independent Living, e-Accessibility and Innovation. Many high-level speakers, attracting delegates representing their institutions are invited to present the latest technologies for people with disabilities.

During ICTA Conference, I presented a paper entitled “How Could Robots Improve Social Skills in Children with Autism?” which is a position paper that aims to improve educational skills of autistic children. The paper was presented with the presence of my colleague Mursi Seraj. Mursi is gifted children having 16 years old who developed the embedded software in Nao Robot.

When it comes to Assistive Technology (AT), over the past decade, a large number of individuals as well as companies have come up with some incredibly life altering equipment and technological gizmos that are aimed not only to make life of an average individual a little simpler and faster, but also to help individuals with varying spectrum of disabilities. On the smaller scale of things, there have been small equipment like visually controlled monitors, voice operators and smart watches, but as the world is progressing and science is making tremendous leaps every second of every day, more and more homes and environments are incorporating Artificial Intelligence into their settings to make AT much easier and friendlier.

When it comes to improved technology and gadgets to help people with various disabilities, science has come a long way and made it possible for over hundreds of thousands of people to lead a better and easier life. From home robots that help you to make a doctor’s appointment to electronic wheelchairs that help you climb a flight of stairs, the marvels of modern science have taken an entirely new dimension, much to the gratitude of common man.

When it comes to talking about Assistive Technology (AT), particularly for people with disabilities (PwD) of a varying spectrum, most people, at first, think of robots and artificial intelligence (AI) in a classroom like setting, but it is so much more than that. Over the years, with the improvement and the speed with which the world of AI has transformed, AT has come a long way from the way it used to be, and now it is used as an umbrella term.

I am happy to report that on March 10, 2017, I had my doctoral dissertation defense, as part of the WebSign project, and that the committee found my research to be worthy. My dissertation was titled “Machine Translation for Sign Language based on Statistical Approach” and was based on translation between American Sign Language and English written text, as well as new transcription system for Sign Language based on Gloss Annotation System was proposed.

ICTA is a bi-annual international conference on ICT & Accessibility. The fifth edition of ICTA 2015 held in Marrakech, Morocco, and organized under the auspices of the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) with the support of ENSIAS College of Engineering, Mohammed V University of Rabat, the Research Laboratory of Technologies of Information and Communication and Electrical Engineering (LaTICE) of the University of Tunis and the Tunisian association of E-accessibility. ICTA2015 is also co-sponsored by IEEE Moroccan Section.