Technical language and terminology can be a stumbling block for keen science students who are deaf or hard of hearing. A Swansea lecturer is helping to bridge that gap with a new glossary of specialist words, and will talk about her work at September's British Science Festival in the city in September.
WORDS like "abrasion", "magma chambers" and "chemical erosion" prick up the ears of geologists. Depicting them in sign language is a different matter, according to Swansea University lecturer Dr Rhian Meara.
She is helping to compile a geography and geology sign language mini-dictionary as part of a wider initiative to help deaf students and teachers. The aim of the BSL (British Sign Language) Glossary Project is to develop academic terminology, and has thus far resulted in glossaries for chemistry, physics, biology and astronomy.
Dr Meara, who does a lot of geography and geology lecturing in Welsh, began learning sign language as a hobby and came to wonder how deaf students were catered for.
Researching the matter online she got in touch with the Scottish Sensory Centre, which runs the glossary project, and a plan of action was formulated. Dr Meara works with a deaf focus group to develop new BSL terms to cover topics including rivers, glaciation, weather, maps, and geographic information systems (GIS).
Each new term is filmed, along with a signed definition or explanation. They will then be available on the BSL Glossary Project website and on a new app which is being developed.