A study of the users of an online sign language dictionary

Authors: Mireille Vale

In this paper I report on a mixed method user study of the Online Dictionary of New Zealand Sign Language (ODNZSL). While sign language dictionaries make comparatively full use of the potential offered by the digital format, they have not previously been the focus of much user research and to date there have been no published studies of the usability of electronic dictionary features such as video material, bidirectional search methods and hyperlinked information. This study focuses on broad questions: who the users of the ODNZSL are, their motivation for consulting the dictionary, aspects of their dictionary consultation behaviour and problems that they currently experience.
The study draws on two data sets: firstly, I analysed log data from the ODNZSL website using Google Analytics; and secondly, I carried out a think-aloud protocol and follow-up interview with representatives of potential user groups identified through a pre-compilation user survey. After a brief description of the structure and format of the ODNZSL, results from these two investigations will be discussed along with implications for optimising the ODNZSL’s usefulness for its diverse users, and for online dictionaries in general.

Keywords: sign languages; electronic dictionaries; users; log files; think aloud

Reference: In Kosem, I., Jakubiček, M., Kallas, J., Krek, S. (eds.) Electronic lexicography in the 21st century: linking lexical data in the digital age. Proceedings of the eLex 2015 conference, 11-13 August 2015, Herstmonceux Castle, United Kingdom. Ljubljana/Brighton: Trojina, Institute for Applied Slovene Studies/Lexical Computing Ltd., pp. 281-303.


Published: 2015