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Over 200,000 Deaf Europeans use a sign language as their first language and rely on access to information - the key to inclusion in society - through a sign language. This in turn means video - if the information is to be distributed or stored for later use.
In some countries this is already happening. There are, for example, Swedish Sign Language video textbooks for children, British Sign Language government information videos German Sign Language video publishers, Dutch Sign Language video newsletters. But examples of good practice are too few.
On 1st January 1998, a new European project was launched - Signing Books. The aim of the project is to research current provision in Europe, identify and evaluate best practice - and make this knowledge widely available as a resource to producers, publishers, presenters and viewers. In this way examples of good practice can be extended throughout the community.
The project will explore how information should be presented to Deaf people on video; where the sign presenter should be located on screen; what the most suitable camera set-ups are; how subtitles should be used.
The project publishes an information resource on the Signing Books Website, which is regularly updated. On it you will find video samples, questionnaires, project findings, and useful addresses. Information will be published in a variety of Community languages. We will also publish a newsletter with the same information, so that everyone will be able to read and contribute to the project, by sending us their comments and suggestions.
Throughout the project, we'll be able to help anyone involved in the production of new sign language videos. The Signing Books Internet help-desk will answer questions, technical and otherwise, related to the production of sign language videos.
Soon there will be widespread opportunities for sign languages to be found, not only on video cassette, but on CD-ROM, and Digital Video. It will be possible to download video from the Internet or cable, or to receive digital satellite broadcasts in sign language. The Signing Books project will ensure a firm step into the future for the sign languages of Europe.
Signing Books is a 2-year project, funded by the EU Telematics Application Programme, sector DE.