A software, launched at a school for the hearing impaired, aims at standardising sign language for students in West Bengal.
The software, named Mounisara 2.1, was launched at CF Block’s Ideal School for the Deaf and is supposed to be distributed to another 35 such schools in the state. It has been developed by the Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC) and Webel Mediatronics.
The programme was demonstrated to the students in one of the two computers that VECC has gifted them to practise on. The screen displays Bengali alphabets. The user then types in a word. For instance if he types “gagan” the English word for it — “sky” — appears along with the video of a lady lifting her arms up and looking at the sky. This is the sign language.
Principal Shibapada Chakraborty explained that at present hearing impaired students develop their own signs and a student of one school may not understand a student of another since they will be using different signs.
“About a year back I was called by Sealdah police to interpret the signs of a mute witness in a murder case. But I could not understand him clearly as he was using his own signs,” says Chakraborty.
An Indian Sign Language exists but Chakraborty says it is adapted from English. “The grammar is different and does not help much when a student’s family speaks Bengali.” Mounisara explains sentence construction to students too. The Bengali version has a bank of 5,500 words and the Hindi version — Mounisara 1.0 — has 1,000.
The team has also converted Barnaparichay and Sahaj Path to ebook format where an expert explains in sign language with Bengali subtitles as scroll.
Rakesh Bhandari of VECC said this was the institute’s attempt to give back to society. “The thought process of these kids is clear. They just lack a voice to express it.”
Parents of students were excited too. “My daughter is interested in computers. I shall take this CD home and we shall both learn from it,” said Sukla Das, mother of Monidipa.