UGent launches database of Flemish sign language

Summary

A new online database, open to everyone, will help teachers prepare lessons in Flemish sign language and allows comparisons with other sign languages

Conserving the culture

Researchers from Ghent University have developed the first digital corpus of the Flemish Sign Language, an online database with 140 hours of videos of 120 sign language users from all over Flanders.

The database is meant to encourage and support research into Flemish Sign Language. As there are also similar archives of other sign languages, comparative research will also be possible.

The database will assist the education sector, including teachers in deaf schools or other teachers developing lesson materials. According to the researchers, the videos are a unique way to conserve the language and culture of deaf people.

The website is accessible to everyone, and users can see videos of a variety of sign-language users from across Flanders. They tell stories, discuss particular topics and talk freely about a subject of their choice.

“We also have a large number of people who use regional variations, like the dialect of Bruges,” explains project co-ordinator Eline Demey. “There are regional differences, though they have more in common with each other than they differ.”

The project was carried out with the University of Leuven and with funding from the Flemish government’s Hercules Foundation.

Ghent University

Ghent University (UGent) is one of Flanders’ most pluralistic and liberal institutions of higher education, and its motto has long been “dare to think”. UGent is renowned for its research in bio and life sciences.
Latin - UGent was originally founded as a Latin-speaking state university by the Dutch king William I.
Nobel - Corneel Heymans, the only Fleming to have won a Nobel Prize, studied at the university.
Autonomy - UGent is the largest employer in East Flanders.
410

million euros in annual revenue

1 882

first female student admitted

1 930

Dutch becomes university’s official language