WFD and WASLI Issue Statement on Signing Avatars

WFD and WASLI have jointly developed a statement to express our concern about the way in which decisions on where and when to use signing avatars as a form of access to spoken or written content is being managed by public authorities. As signed languages are fully-fledged languages with their own complex structures that are distinct from spoken languages, a word-to-sign exact translation is not possible because any translation needs to consider the context and the cultural norms.

The difference in linguistic quality between humans and avatars is why WFD and WASLI caution against the use of signing avatars as a replacement for human signers. Whilst the technology has progressed and offers real potential for wider use of signing avatars, these computerised products do not surpass the natural quality and skill provided by appropriately trained and qualified interpreters and translators.

To date, machine translations have yet to emulate the human ability in creating a live interpretation (spoken or signed). Computer generated machine translations cannot render culturally appropriate translations as would be provided by live interpretations from a human sign language interpreter.
For further background on the WFD and WASLI Statement and advise on how and when to determine appropriate use of signing avatars, please click here.