Teaching and learning resources for acquiring languages usually rely on the use of a conventional writing system or script of the target language as means to support learning. However, in the case of learning American Sign Language (ASL), there is no widely adopted ASL script, and many available software tools are designed around English (or other spoken language) script—which is not the target language the student is learning. As such, these resources must be redesigned or modified for use in supporting ASL learning. In this article, we describe the progress of a software development project called Terp-Tube intended to address this problem. We also report the results of a user study to validate the initial software design plans. The TerpTube project and software aim to support the language learning needs of ASL and interpretation students and their mentors. Because using English text in the software interface may hinder the learning of ASL and video format is the primary way to represent ASL, we designed the interface to be video-centric, or Deaf-centric. Using ASL video rather than English text comments to comment on videos is an example of Deaf-centric design. To evaluate our initial design cycle using usability and usefulness metrics, we recruited 20 participants from the interpreter training programs at Eastern Kentucky University in the United States and George Brown College in Canada. The study results demonstrate that participants found the software useful and easy to learn, although some issues were reported with the video commenting feature. Overall, participants reported an interest in, and the need for, using this software in ASL instruction. We continue to explore and evaluate principles of Deaf-centric software design. Such design principles include navigation features that do not rely on English text alone and options for user-generated content video. ASL immersion in software environments is likely to support students' learning of the language and demonstrates respect for the primary language of the users who mentor them.


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pp. 264-300
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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