NASA Astronaut Sends First Signed Message from Orbit
From: NASA HQ
Posted: Sunday, July 25, 2010
The number of languages used on the International Space Station has recently increased. In addition to those spoken in the 15 countries that have had representatives aboard the space station, American Sign Language, or ASL, is now included. NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson has sent a message in ASL from the station to the deaf community.
In the video, Caldwell Dyson answered several questions about living and working aboard the station and how she became interested in sign language.
"I am truly grateful for this opportunity on behalf of the deaf community and the multitudes of students who will benefit from seeing their language spoken in space," Caldwell Dyson said. "It is my hope that this video will help inspire our next generation of scientists and explorers."
Watch the Video:
As NASA's missions advance beyond Earth's orbit, the agency will continue its efforts to highlight its diverse workforce. NASA strives to assist the next generation of researchers to gain access to science-related fields.
Caldwell Dyson will work on several other videos targeted to users of ASL. When the videos are completed, they will be posted on the agency's website at: http://www.nasa.gov
Editor's note: As a former professional Sign Language interepreter myself, stories like this certainly get my attention. As such, I do not mean to detract from this but, this is not the first time that an astronaut has signed a message in space for use back on Earth. It may well be the first video downlinked live with signing, however. According to Bill Readdy, he signed a short message on STS-42 back in 1992 (see YouTube video from CollectSpace below). The was not downlinked live but It was recorded and later appeared on a Gallaudet University's TV show "Deaf Mosaic". Bill still remembers some of the signs to this day. That said, this recent video is cool and is exactly the sort of thing NASA should be encouraged to do in the future so as to broaden its ability to interact with all citizens.