sign-lang and brail encodings?

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I recall a few months ago coming across an article allowing for encoding
(or converting?) xml and html documents into sign language as well as
brail for deaf and blind people, and that they were pending an ISO

I cannot seem to find any information on this. From what I recall they
were supposed to be use able in <meta> charset or so tags.

Thanks in advance for any help on this.

Re: sign-lang and brail encodings?

Steve K. wrote:

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This seems slightly dubious -- sign language is a rendering technique,
not a document format.

Although there is some use for "a document format that represents sign"
(publishers of illustrated sign-targetted books could certainly use it)
then that's a pretty trivial exercise in writing an XML schema.
Elements within this schema could represent the various signs (fully,
and accurately, with all their subtleties) and could also model most of
the mapping between the world's various sign vocabularies. A good idea,
with great benefit to a small number of people.

A more generally useful technique would be a "sign browser". Take a
document, _any_ document, and render it using sign language. In effect
it's a translation tool from text to sign. This is of less general use
(using sign is no indication that you can't read for yourself!) but
it's more widely applicable. Sign users can feed any content they like
into it, just like a speech browser, without requiring any
sign-specific markup on the overall document.

If you want a document to "render in sign" no matter who reads it, then
that needs some embedded document content more than just a single
<meta> on the top (embedded XML via namespacing might do the job).

If you want to make general documents "sign-browser compatible" then
some such browsers might indeed want to see a "sign capable" <meta> on
the document, but that's a badly thought-through feature. Why can't
they just accept any well-formed HTML ?

If "rendering text as sign" is too hard (and it _is_ hard), then it
might well be useful to embed "sign ruby" throughout the document text
and to hint at the intended meaning of homonyms etc. Again though, this
is spread throughout the text, not just a per-document <meta>

Re: sign-lang and brail encodings?

Steve K. wrote:
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Actually, some sign languages aren't even rendering techniques. There are
sign languages that simply translate writen/spoken English into signs, but
American Sign Language (ASL) is an independent language, with its own
syntax and vocabulary (although its vocabulary does borrow heavily from
Darin McGrew,, /
    Web Design Group,, /

           "There is no right way to do the wrong thing."

Re: sign-lang and brail encodings?

Darin McGrew wrote:
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Very true, though "pidgin sign" in English word order is accepted from
those of us who don't know better. (I remember just enough ASL to
apologise for not remembering more, and to appreciate sign-singing.)

Joe Kesselman / Beware the fury of a patient man. -- John Dryden

Re: sign-lang and brail encodings?

Darin McGrew wrote:

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Indeed - which is why you need some ruby-like approach.

This is solvable, if you want, but it would take more than a single
<meta> on a page

Re: sign-lang and brail encodings?

Braille (note spelling) is also more than just an encoding, if you're
doing it properly. Yes, there is a simplified braille which is a direct
conversion of the printed characters, but that's inefficient -- bulky
(not that braille is ever as compact as printed text anyway) and slow to
read.  The desirable forms involve a set of contractions which improve
both factors, but my understanding is that these still require some
human intervention to make sure the rules are being applied correctly.
Software is already available to address the first and assist the second.

So, yes, a braille encoding would be a good thing to have, but it's only
part of the proper solution.

(Caveat: I don't read braille; I've just volunteered occasionally at
National Braille Press. My understanding may be faulty. Don't take the
above as unquestionable; do your research.)

() ASCII Ribbon Campaign  | Joe Kesselman
/\ Stamp out HTML e-mail! | System architexture and kinetic poetry

Re: sign-lang and brail encodings?

Steve K. wrote:

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Visually impaired usually browse the web with the help of speech
synthesizers and Braille displays (a dot matrix thingy that you connect
to your computer and keep under your keyboard, in front of it.)

See (if you can!) < .


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