The International Assisted Communications for Education Project, I-ACE is a 2-year EU funded project that commenced October 2016. The project coordinator is Paula Escudeiro of the Instituto Politécnico do Porto, Portugal with 7 partners across Europe.
The central focus of the project is the support of deaf students in education and citizenship. Effective communication is essential to a quality of life and education and both of these should be equally available in a socially inclusive society. However, research has shown that access to education is severely compromised for the deaf and hear of hearing and hence barriers exist to students achieving their full potential. The I-ACE project aims to establish an innovative infrastructure that supports live assisted communication between the conventional classroom and the deaf student and between deaf and non-deaf people. Through this infrastructure it is hoped that better integration and better education will result.
The number of people who are deaf or have hearing issues rises with age and, in all age bands, is rising over time. The issue is already a socially important one and is growing in significance each year.
Initial research has shown that there are a vast number of different sign languages across the World (approximately 200) with 47 in Europe alone. They have different language origins with only limited similarity. A specific deliverable of the project will be an automatic bi-directional translation between sign language and written speech across 6 different languages (Portuguese, Slovenian, Greek, German, Cyprus and UK sign languages).