Key Takeaways from the Symposium on AI and Sign Language Interpreting

Yamillet Payano and Brian Hertneky

Thu May 02 2024

Attending the Symposium on AI and Sign Language Interpreting last weekend felt like entering a buzzing digital space, where countless ideas and innovations surrounding Deaf and Hard of Hearing accessibility technology were discussed. Therefore, with all the excitement in the world, we delved into the world of sign language AI interpretation for two days!

As we got together internally to unpack learnings from the symposium, an epiphany dawned on us. It is not enough for us to merely obtain knowledge from the symposium. We feel compelled to share that knowledge with all of you. That's why we wrote this blog post. This is how we can share with all of you the key takeaways from the symposium. After all, staying informed is key to making sure that the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community keeps up to date with all the latest technological developments promoting autonomy and quality.

The leaders covered lots of different topics like AI research, ethics, and the things that need work in the interpreting industry. We took quick notes and found that some of the main takeaways were:

1. Inclusive involvement of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community in AI product development is of utmost importance to ensure inclusivity, informed consent, and respect for data privacy.

2. Addressing the diverse communication and expectation needs of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community across the US is paramount.

3. It's important to formulate a diverse set of databases for AI development.

And Brian’s favorite takeaway is:

4. The Deaf and Hard of Hearing community should participate in every iteration of the technology to provide the best user experience for them when using our AI tools.

A question that was raised but was left unanswered is:

1. Who holds the authority to dictate the deployment of this technology? Should the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community have SOLE agency in determining its usage by being part of the development?

These were tremendously important topics, and we are glad that they were raised so frequently by talented people throughout the symposium. We were particularly happy to see the acknowledgment that AI tools for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community serve as a complement, not a replacement, to interpreters—an invaluable tool in enhancing community autonomy. Lastly, we want to say a big thank you to the SAFE AI symposium planning team, and especially to Tim Riker and Steph Kent. We really appreciated all the interesting talks and discussions at the event.

Sign-Speak remains committed to championing inclusivity and advancing technological innovation for our community.