Medical signbank

Bringing deaf people and linguists together in the process of language development

Trevor Johnston*, Jemina Napier

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    14 Citations (Scopus)


    In this article we describe an Australian project in which linguists, signed language interpreters, medical and health care professionals, and members of the Deaf community use the technology of the Internet to facilitate cooperative language development. A web-based, interactive multimedia lexicon, an encyclopedic dictionary, and a database of Australian Sign Language (Auslan) are being used to create an effective, accepted, and shared sign language vocabulary for the discussion of medical and mental health issues by deaf clients and health professionals in interactions mediated by Auslan interpreters. The site, called Medical Signbank, is a means of monitoring Auslan vocabulary use and innovation by interpreters and of providing an explanation of basic medical and mental health terminology to deaf people with limited English or literacy skills. Medical Signbank will use the interactive capabilities of the Internet to turn the tables on language planning and standardization-from "top down" to "bottom up"-and, by so doing, encourage an organic and more natural process of language development.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)258-275
    Number of pages18
    JournalSign Language Studies
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010

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