Signing Avatars in a New Dimension: Challenges and Opportunities in Virtual Reality

Lorna Cobban Quandt, Jason Lamberton, Carly Leannah, Athena Willis and Melissa Malzkuhn

Seventh International Workshop on Sign Language Translation and Avatar Technology: The Junction of the Visual and the Textual (SLTAT 2022)
Marseille, France, 24 June 2022

Abstract for Book of Abstracts

With improved and more easily accessible technology, immersive virtual reality (VR) head-mounted devices have become more ubiquitous. As signing avatar technology improves, virtual reality presents a new and relatively unexplored application for signing avatars. This paper discusses two primary ways that signed language can be represented in immersive virtual spaces: 1) Third-person, in which the VR user sees a character who communicates in signed language; and 2) First-person, in which the VR user produces signed content themselves, tracked by the head-mounted device and visible to the user herself (and/or to other users) in the virtual environment. We will discuss the unique affordances granted by virtual reality and how signing avatars might bring accessibility and new opportunities to virtual spaces. We will then discuss the limitations of signed con-tent in virtual reality concerning virtual signers shown from both third- and first-person perspectives.

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