Springer Nature to retract chapter on sign language critics call “unbelievably insulting” – Retraction Watch

Written across a chalkboard "I am not my disability" with a hand showing a victory sign

Springer Nature is retracting a book chapter describing conference research after scholars in the deaf community blasted it for being “unbelievably insulting.”

The chapter, “Implementation of Hand Gesture Recognition System To Aid Deaf-Dumb People,” appeared in Advances in Signal and Data Procesing: Select Proceedings of ICSDP 2019. The authors were  Supriya Ghule and Mrunalini Chavaan, of the MIT Academy of Engineering in Pune, India.

According to the abstract:

In recent years, the population of deaf-dumb victims has increased because of birth defects and other issues. Since a deaf and mute person cannot talk with an ordinary person in order that they ought to rely on some kind of communication system. The gesture shows some physical movements of the hand that convey a piece of information. Gesture recognition is the analytical interpretation of the movement of an individual through an information processing system. Linguistic communication provides the most effective conversation platform for the mute person to speak with an ordinary person. The aim of this paper is to build up a time system for hand gesture recognition that acknowledges hand gestures and then converts them into text and voice. In this paper, efforts have been done to detect 8 different gestures. Each gesture has assigned unique sound and text output. In experimental results, 800 samples were taken into the consideration out of which 760 samples were detected correctly and 40 samples were detected wrongly. Hence, the proposed system gives accuracy of 95%.

Gary came across this story as part of his other existence (AHRECS.com) and shared it with the rest of us. To say we were livid would be an understatement. We don’t know how we would react if someone said this to our face. We are astounded, not only that a researcher would think/write this, but that it survived peer review without somebody twigging just how offensive this is. We are glad, at least, that it has been retracted, but that it exists in some form in the academic literature is sickening (especially given how inconsistently publications mark that an article has been retracted).

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