deaf community in Meghalaya consists of a group of children and adults who are either prelingually deaf or postlingually deaf. The community is not defined by geographical boundaries but by a sense of belonging that comes from the one common behavior which they share amongst themselves i.e., their ‘Sign Language’. This language can be referred to as the ‘Meghalaya Sign Language’ since it is commonly shared across the deaf communities in the state. The development of this Meghalaya SignBank would symbolize its strength as a linguistic entity and give recognition and empowerment to the language and its users. This would undoubtedly give a sense of pride and joy to the deaf community in the state and the developers of this android app deserve to be lauded. As the process of compiling the Meghalaya SignBank continued, the richness of this sign language as a natural language was further affirmed through the number of lexical variants (words) that it has for each word in smaller communities within the state, and also the presence of systematic rules for its grammar. Henceforth, this SignBank should take precedence in the field of education and public institutions by ensuring communication access to all – hearing or deaf – where the deaf community can exercise equal opportunities in all spheres of their lives.
The specific features are:
• The app has been designed in a user-friendly manner, where English is used to access sign language. The user can simply type an English word and the corresponding sign will be displayed in a video format.
• Users may find a single sign having two or even three citations. The first sign citation a user sees in the screen is a sign commonly used in urban areas of the state. The second and third citation will be signs commonly used either in different parts of Garo hills or any other districts within the state. This corpus treats these different forms of signs as variants or a dialectical form of the language. At present, it tries to incorporate all these differences to show the richness and the extent of the language used in smaller deaf communities or units in the state.
• Lexical entries are not only organized in alphabetic order, but words have also been arranged according to semantic categories for instance, educational terms, religious terms, health and medical terms, etc.
• Lexical entries also include culture specific items (food, dress, customs, etc) which are incorporated in Khasi and Garo words under the socio-cultural category.
• Each sign entry has been translated into Khasi and Garo to enable users to access signs through the language they understand.
• the dictionary also includes the definition and grammatical information only in the English language.
• Besides words, the English alphabet (both single-handed and double-handed fingerspellings) and numerals are incorporated into this corpus. If a user cannot sign, he/she can simply type a word in English, and automatically the word will be spelled for the user.
• It already contains a list of approximately 3000 words and a larger database of lexical entries is in the process of being added.