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SIGNSPACE project launch: An online portal for multilingual signers

27 February, 2017

We are excited to announce the launch of our new project, entitled ‘Multilingual work spaces for sign language users: An online portal driving social innovation’ (SIGNSPACE), funded by the European Research Council (ERC) as a follow-up to ‘Multilingual behaviour in sign language users’ (MULTISIGN). Our MULTISIGN team found that signers have impressive abilities to communicate across language boundaries. As a ‘Proof of Concept’ project, SIGNSPACE gives signers the chance to exploit and increase this ability by translating MULTISIGN findings into an innovative and practical online portal for transnational signed communication.


Some of our MULTISIGN project team members


The portal will feature activities to help signers build meta-linguistic awareness, use sign languages bilingually and multilingually, and interact remotely with people who use different sign languages, with an integrated tool for sign-to-sign-translation. The idea for the portal was developed based on the views of 63 deaf people, from 25 different countries, in their responses to our online survey presented in International Sign.

Prof Ulrike Zeshan, principal investigator for SIGNSPACE, commented: “Our portal will especially benefit deaf communities who have had few opportunities for international contact in the past. They’ll be able to converse with experienced international deaf colleagues, draw from their knowledge, share resources and strengthen their capacity for activism, for example to lobby their local government bodies for access to education and sign language recognition”.

SIGNSPACE is an 18-month collaboration between UCLan’s iSLanDS and an award-winning Hungarian company, Dolphio Technologies. Together, we will create the portal; hold demonstration and training workshops in India, Indonesia, Jordan, Hungary and the UK. We are grateful to all of our MULTISIGN participants and research team, survey respondents, academic and business partners, the ERC, and everyone else who has contributed to the formation and launch of this innovative project.


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