23 September 2020

International Sign Language Day: What do web accessibility guidelines say?

September 23 is the international day of sign languages.

Catalan sign language, commonly known by the acronym LSC, is the language of the deaf and deafblind people who are signatories of Catalonia. It is a natural language of gestural and visual modality used by the group of signatories as a linguistic system of social and cultural communication. It is also the language in which they usually interact with other people in their immediate family and social environment. It was approved by the Parliament in 2010.

The LSC, like other sign languages, fulfills all possible communicative functions and, like all living languages, has characteristics that distinguish it. Catalan sign language has evolved since its inception and continues to evolve constantly. Interacts with other sign and oral languages, receives influences and progressively incorporates concepts and new signs in accordance with the current knowledge and communication society.

Sign language interpreters are professionals who allow deaf people access to information and communication. Currently there is no tool that facilitates the recording of an interpreter and that is why you have to go to professionals. It is important to bear in mind that, for a part of the deaf community, sign language is an essential tool to access content.

What do the web accessibility guidelines say about whether or not it is compulsory to offer content in sign language?

There is a criterion that talks about it, both in the 2.0 and 2.1 guidelines.

"1.2.6 Sign language (pre-recorded): A sign language interpretation of pre-recorded sound content in synchronized multimedia content is provided. (Level AAA)"

It is an AAA level checkpoint, and therefore not usually taken into account too much, as the legislation of most countries states that the minimum level to be met is the AA, although for some people it is very important. .

In Spain, it is not mandatory to include sign language interpretation on websites, although the insertion of subtitles is.

What the guidelines indicate is that sign language interpretation must be offered to all pre-recorded audio content (e.g. for videos), but is not required for the text of a website.

Many deaf people at birth use sign language as their mother tongue. They can generally write and read but the comprehension of the texts can sometimes be more complex for this group.

Criterion 1.2.6 "Sign Language" has two sufficient associated techniques:

"G54: Including a sign language interpreter in the video stream.

G81: Providing a synchronized video of the sign language interpreter that can be displayed in a different viewport or overlaid on the image by the player "

Note what the G81 technique indicates: If sign language videos are included it is important to allow the screen to be enlarged. It is necessary to be able to perceive all the details of the movement of the body and the hands.

Web Page Resources with LSC Videos

Visual Web. It contains several sections related to deaf community and society in general news in sign language with Catalan version in Catalan or Spanish. Sign language files can be downloaded for practice and dissemination.

DifuSord. It contains some videos in Catalan sign language. The format is more text than signed, but occasionally they include explanatory videos of deaf people. Files can also be downloaded.


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