Works in Progress
What a bold title for such an infant project in which less than 20% is written and, when all is said and done, will ideally be a perpetual "work in progress". Nonetheless, here are some of the components currently under development or consideration. Your feedback is welcome and appreciated.
Database profile as of May 27th, 2017: Words: 52 Authors: 4 Entries: 74
Clearly, more handshapes are needed to complete the basic building blocks. Work has begun on adding more in but part of the problem is identifying an accurate list of handshapes. The Green books help and so the current goal is to settle on those 50+ handshapes and see how well that suffices. Feel free to share your thoughts on a handshape list.
Proposed solution: Additional handshapes to be added.
How does the prospective user know they have found the correct sign? Ideally, they could see (a video of) the sign they have in mind, to make sure this is the correct sign/concept for the words presented. This represents a huge amount of work, however. On the plus side, many videos already exist on line ( MSU's Commtech Lab Communication Technology Lab for example) so perhaps we don't need to re-invent a costly wheel. Recommendations?
Status: Researching alternatives.
Once the infrastructure is built (read: more finished and stable), the goal is to open the ASL Dictionary up to a wider audience that is better suited to entering sign data into the dictionary's database. Some method of registration / user login is needed to control who has access to the dictionary (everyone has read and search, for example, but other functions such as "Add words", "Comment on entries", "Edit/Modify entries", etc. should be controlled and limited to known/registered users.)
- For registered users, the ability to "Add a sign" from the web interface into the database exists.
Early feedback shows the need for an "alternate words" category in the database schema. Ironically, the example came to light again over Father's Day weekend, with the signs for "Dad" and "Father". Just as there are several ways to sign a given word, there are also several words that link up to a given sign. Instead of having multiple, nearly-identical entries in the database, an internal thesaurus of sorts should help here. Easier said than done? Could be, your thoughts? Status: Database restructure being designed.
Part of the fun of having a living language is the way it changes over time and, especially in the case of signing, geography. Signs in one area may be different in others. The original idea was to try and track the location but that was quickly tossed out. Multiple entries in the database might suffice but so far, there isn't an easy or straightforward answer. Because the variation isn't well defined (and is likely to change), perhaps a "user comment and feedback" ability will help. Similar systems have been used with great success within other communities, such as PHP programmers commenting on specific language routines/functions
Possible solution: User feedback system. Not just "rate this sign" abilities but an on-going commentary that allows users to give feedback, local variations and comments on the sign.
Status: Commentary system TBD (To be developed)
The ASL Project Team
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