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April 21, 2004

Scientists sign up to help deaf

From: The Scotsman, UK - Apr 21, 2004

THE world of science is being opened up for deaf people thanks to a project at Edinburgh University.

The scheme is bringing together scientists and interpreters to create new signs in sign language for complex biological terms.

Led by Dr Jan Barfoot, with funding from a Wellcome Trust Award and a Royal Society Copus grant, the project is examining biological terms, identifying what signs exist already, what signs are produced on the spur of the moment by people discussing science, and what gaps there are in the signing vocabulary.

The project is being carried out at the Scottish Institute for Biotechnology Education, part of the Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology at the university.

While "gene therapy", "stem cells" and "chromosomes" are terms widely used, there are many biological terms, such as "snips", "lod scores" and "sonic hedgehog", for which there are no signs.

Dr Barfoot said: "We're constantly finding new words that need translated but we'll probably focus on 50 to 100 new signs."