In spite of a renewed interest and legal recognition in some European countries, sign languages are for the most part still under threat, as the result of remnants of traditional policies marginalizing sign language use.
Deepening the knowledge on sign language grammars with a theoretically informed comparative approach is a fundamental step towards sign language preservation and dissemination, while contributing to the characterization of the human faculty of language, whose study is severely biased towards spoken languages.
SIGN-HUB has been designed by a European research team to provide an innovative and inclusive resource hub for the linguistic, historical and cultural documentation of the Deaf communities’ heritage and for sign language assessment in clinical intervention and school settings.
To this end, it has created an open state-of-the-art digital platform with customized accessible interfaces. The project has fed the platform with core content in the following domains, expandable in the future to other sign languages: (i) digital grammars of 7 sign languages, produced with a new online grammar writing tool; (ii) an interactive digital atlas of linguistic structures of the world's sign languages; (iii) online sign language assessment instruments for education and clinical intervention, and (iv) the first digital archive of life narratives by elderly signers, subtitled and partially annotated for linguistic properties.
These components, made available for the first time through a centralized platform to specialists and to the general public, will (a) help explore and value the identity and the cultural, historical and linguistic assets of Deaf signing communities, (b) advance linguistic knowledge on the natural languages of the Deaf and (c) impact on the diagnosis of language deficits within these minorities.