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Visual communication channel for web enquiries at Centre for Deaf Studies

23 July 2009

In an innovative development, the University’s Centre for Deaf Studies (CDS) now accepts enquiries and comments from the public in video.

The new SignMail channel allows users looking for more information about the University to record and send visual messages which will be translated and responded to by CDS staff. While this is focused on deaf sign language users, it may be of benefit to all users as it allows CDS staff to see more detail on the queries and to respond visually as well as in text.

SignMail is part of a suite of software tools being developed by the Centre to create an innovative learning environment for British Sign Language users.

In order to use SignMail, users simply follow the instructions on the website. No downloads are required and as long as the user has access to a webcam, the messages can be captured and sent.

The Centre for Deaf Studies, Europe’s first academic institution to concentrate solely on research and education that aims to benefit the Deaf community, has a long-standing policy of bilingualism in BSL and spoken/written English. This policy is evident in its teaching, research and day-to-day activities, and also extends to learning resources.

Professor Jim Kyle of CDS said: ‘It has long been our goal to allow users who are not familiar with text to be able to reach us and to have a very quick response. Because our language policy includes sign language, it has been the goal to make it easier for deaf people to communicate with us at a distance.  With SignMail, users at their desk can do this simply and efficiently. I am sure it will greatly enhance our community relations.’

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