Free sign language translation application in Portuguese with millions of monthly translations
- VLibras Suite
- Country of Implementation
- Start Year
- First published
“VLibras allows Brazilian deaf to access information in the digital world more independently and autonomously.” Tiago Maritan Ugulino de Araújo, Professor, Federal University of Paraíba
Federal University of Paraíba and the Brazilian Federal Government have developed VLibras, a sign language translator that is entirely public, free, and open source. Its vocabulary has approximately 21,000 signs – animated in 3D – and about 100,000 sentences in Portuguese and Brazilian Sign Language (Libras). In addition, the university has started a public service that offers machine translation from Portuguese to Libras for any Brazilian website. In 2023, VLibras had approximately 40 million daily accesses and performed around 3 million translations per month.
Deaf persons in Brazil face significant barriers to communication and access to digital information since sign language is rarely available.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
VLibras Suite is an open-source platform for machine translation from Portuguese to Brazilian Sign Language (Libras). Components include browser plugins, mobile apps, desktop tools, and video translation portals that allow digital content to be dynamically translated and rendered by a 3D virtual sign language interpreter avatar. One of the most important things when building machine translation solutions for any language is to have a massive quantity of data in that language. This is not the case for sign languages, however, and therefore it was one of the primary challenges to creating VLibras Suite. To address this challenge required a considerable effort from hundreds of people to create a bilingual Portuguese-Libras corpus with around 100,000 sentences and to organize and consolidate a set of more than 21,000 signs, one of the largest free sign language translation databases globally. VLibras also includes WikiLibras, a crowdsourcing tool for the deaf community to expand their vocabulary and improve translations. VLibras provides sign language accessibility to over 120,000 Brazilian websites, has 40 million daily accesses, and performs 3 million translations per month.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
The VLibras Suite is the result of a partnership between the Ministry of Management and Innovation in Public Services, the Ministry of Human Rights and Citizenship, and the Federal University of Paraíba. Through this partnership all research and development projects are financed and carried out, which allows for the hiring researchers, linguists, sign language interpreters, deaf consultants, and everything else needed to maintain and develop the VLibras Suite tools. Federal University of Paraìba intends to expand the VLibras platform to other sign languages. A new solution, called OpenSigns, will utilize common components for generic functionalities derived from VLibras, including manipulation of 3D models and interchangeable mechanisms. (Awardee 2024)