Sign language and new technologies. Interpreting in LIS in the digital era

In a “knowledge society” like ours, sign language interpreting manages to ride the wave and make the most of digital and technological communication tools in order to make information accessible to everyone.

In recent years we have witnessed an acceleration of digitalization at a global level. We may have heard of a “global media village”, where information takes on different shapes and dimensions in order to reach its destination. Only an information society can generate a knowledge society: an individual who does research, who studies, who knows can then say that he really knows, that he is informed. The same cannot be said of the reverse process.

But for this to happen, society itself must make it possible. A deaf individual must be guaranteed full access to information, even and above all in a digital-oriented era. Knowledge must be shared and disseminated, free from spatial-temporal or logistic limitations. The digital age has brought about significant changes in the life of modern man, simplifying and speeding up daily, work and personal activities.

Sign language was born at the end of the eighteenth century when the first special institutions for the deaf were born. The geographic location of these centers and trade associations obviously influenced the creation of sign language, as it developed on the local spoken language. In Italy, it is only at the end of the last century that we witnessed the spread of a national sign language (now commonly known as LIS) by a famous Italian national television network.

In the nineties, we attended conferences in LIS thanks to the use of VHS (video home system), which has favored greater standardization of sign language. Unfortunately, however, these primordial ways of sign language interpreting had the defect of using signs that were affected by the context or the specific objectives of the communication.

The mobile data connection, the advent of smartphones and 5G technology have contributed to the development of a more formal and universal register and sign, as well as allowing sign language interpreters to work directly remotely and not necessarily face-to-face.

Remote interpreting agencies such as Rafiky saw in digital the opportunity to increase the level of accessibility of information and events in foreign languages ​​to all participants, not only through remote interpreting services but also thanks to the provision of remote sign language.

Interpretation in sign language, traditionally attributed to a service provided in person, is therefore provided thanks to the projection on the screen of a sign language interpreter. The possibility of accessing tools of this kind has been very successful, as it allows greater use by deaf individuals. While previously the interpretation in sign language preferred the only modality in presence, to date and over time we have seen how much it has been influenced by the historical-cultural context and by the new tools made available to it.

It is no longer a question of guaranteeing only a service in an individual dimension, but also a collective one. Precisely on the basis of principles of equality and equal sharing, it is thanks to remote sign language interpreting that the same rights can be ensured at a universal level.

Press Office Rafiky