Exploring factors that contribute to successful fingerspelling comprehension. Proceedings from Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC `14). pp. 1905-1910. Reykjavík, Iceland, May 2014
Leah Geer & Jonathan Keane
Using a novel approach, we examine which cues in a fingerspelling stream, namely holds or transitions, allow for more successful comprehension by students learning American Sign Language (ASL). Sixteen university-level ASL students participated in this study. They were shown video clips of a native signer fingerspelling common English words. Clips were modified in the following ways: all were slowed down to half speed, one-third of the clips were modified to black out the transition portion of the fingerspelling stream, and one-third modified to have holds blacked out. The remaining third of clips were free of blacked out portions, which we used to establish a baseline of comprehension. Research by Wilcox (1992), among others, suggested that transitions provide more rich information, and thus items with the holds blacked out should be easier to comprehend than items with the transitions blacked out. This was not found to be the case here. Students achieved higher comprehension scores when hold information was provided. Data from this project can be used to design training tools to help students become more proficient at fingerspelling comprehension, a skill with which most students struggle.