2. Project Description
Educators and professionals working in a wide variety of fields, as well as Deaf persons themselves, report that Deaf adults often face obstacles in their understanding of technical terms. Consequently, it is very difficult if not impossible for many hearing-impaired persons to have an access to a professional education equivalent to that available to their hearing peers. The aim of this lexicon project is to provide explanations of technical terms in Swiss German Sign Language (Deutschschweizersiche Gebärdensprache, DSGS) videos as well as in German texts for hearing-impaired sign language users as well as for teaching personal, on-the-job supervisors, professional consultants, interpreters and interpreter trainers.
In this 2 year Schweizerischer Nationalfonds-DORE project, it was impossible to research ALL fields of technical terms. The two technical areas chosen for this project are of primary importance for the partner schools, as well as for the Sign Language Interpreter Training Program of the University of Applied Sciences of Special Needs Education Zurich (HfH):
• Economy (focussing on terms for taxes, renting and buying as well as basic economic terms needed by businesses and young persons entering the working world )
• Nutrition (nutrition, nutrients, gastronomy, technical cooking terms and utensils)
For each field, the project team and experts from the partner school provided a list of ca. 300 of what they considered to be the most important technical terms for their deaf students, sometimes together with a German definition and suggestions of practical examples for the term.
The meanings of the spoken language terms were then discussed by an expert group’ of signing deaf persons with professional knowledge of the technical field together with the deaf linguistic researchers of the project. If the expert group found that there is no existing conventionalized sign for a term, they will discussed possibilities for and then decided on a new sign or sign phrase, which would, in their opinion, best convey the term's meaning using DSGS techniques for the generation of new signs. The team then prepared the DSGS versions of the definitions and examples for the term, which were signed by a deaf video model for the videoclips used in the lexicon. Experienced sign language interpreters then made the German translations for the sign language texts.