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In 2013, developers at Microsoft Research worked on sign language recognition in Kinect devices in order to translate sign language (more specifically American Sign Language) into spoken words.

Taking this one step further, has there been any research on the use of the Kinect to learn or teach sign language (most likely American Signa Language)?

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Researchers in Thailand did a preliminary study on this; see Teerawat Kamnardsiri et al: "The Effectiveness of the Game-Based Learning System for the Improvement of American Sign Language using Kinect", Electronic Journal of e-Learning 15(4): 2017-283, August 2017.

The researchers divided 31 deaf learners (average age: 21) into two groups: a group of 17 learners who used a Kinect game, and a control group of 14 learners who were taught sign language in a traditional way. Prior to the experiment, there was a test of the learners' sign language skills, which showed no significant differences. After the experiment, there was a new test, which showed statistically significant differences between the two groups; the "Kinect" group performed better than the control group.

There are a few limitations to the study:

  • The test involved a very small set of words or concepts, i.e. a much smaller set than what deaf learners need to acquire.
  • The sample of learners was very small.
  • The experiment duration (six months) was considered rather short.

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