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High demand for Sign Language Programs in Japan

NHK is constantly developing its sign language CG animation system on internet, PCs and smart phones. There are currently 300,000 hearing impaired in Japan and 60 000 people speak Japanese Sign Language (JSL) as their first language.

Due to the increase in demand for sign language programs in Japan, NHK is presently expanding its sign language broadcasting services. Speaking at the ABU Digital Broadcasting Symposium in Kuala Lumpur, Mr Tsubasa Uchida, Researcher at NHK Science and Technology research Laboratories said lots of innovations are being brought to the CG animation system. He pointed out that it is not easy to find more sign language interpreters and that it is imperative for NHK to use automation to reduce production costs and interpreters’ workload.

Mr Uchida explained how the CG animation is delivered. On the Internet news about weather forecast are broadcast through an automatic generation system using formatted information and pre-fixed templates of sign language. On IBB (Integrated Broadcast Broadband System), emergency information is broadcast through a prototype system using Hybridcast and displayed on second screen device. Announcements on emergency information could also be made when interpreters are absent through an Emergency Alarm System.

The Sign Language weather forecast website was opened to the public in February 2017.