SIGN-HUB has been designed by a European research team to provide an innovative and inclusive resource hub for the linguistic, historical and cultural documentation of the Deaf communities’ heritage and for sign language assessment in clinical intervention and school settings.
To this end, it has created an open state-of-the-art digital platform with customized accessible interfaces. The project has fed the platform with core content in the following domains, expandable in the future to other sign languages: (i) digital grammars of 7 sign languages, produced with a new online grammar writing tool; (ii) an interactive digital atlas of linguistic structures of the world’s sign languages; (iii) online sign language assessment instruments for education and clinical intervention, and (iv) the first digital archive of life narratives by elderly signers, subtitled and partially annotated for linguistic properties.
These components, made available for the first time through a centralized platform to specialists and to the general public, will (a) help explore and value the identity and the cultural, historical and linguistic assets of Deaf signing communities, (b) advance linguistic knowledge on the natural languages of the Deaf and (c) impact on the diagnosis of language deficits within these minorities.
The project involves participation of seven countries: Spain, The Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey and Israel. The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 693349 (Start date: 01/04/2016-End date: 30/04/2020.)
In spite of a renewed interest and legal recognition in some European countries, sign languages are for the most part still under threat, as the result of remnants of traditional policies marginalizing sign language use and the communities of sign language users in education, labour market and social participation.
Deepening the knowledge on sign language grammars with a theoretically informed comparative approach is a fundamental step towards sign language preservation and dissemination, as well as a solid basis for policies that hinge on accessibility and inclusion, including language assessment.
An important part of SIGN-HUB is documenting and preserving part of the European linguistic and cultural heritage by creating, analyzing and making available a digital archive of life narratives of elderly signers about their individual and collective memories in different European Deaf communities. This archive constitutes an unprecedented stepping stone towards the documentation of the history of Deaf communities since the mid-20th century and the language change attested from that generation on.
The platform is conceived of as an open knowledge and resource hub, to which additional content and new components can be added. The platform is currentlt being redesigned, and will be supervised by a Scientific Committe emering from the project. The contents and the tools made available on the platform can be enriched by initiatives for any sign language and Deaf community around the globe.