IEEE ACCESS, vol.8, pp.181340-181355, 2020 (SCI-Expanded)
Sign language recognition is a challenging problem where signs are identified by simultaneous local and global articulations of multiple sources, i.e. hand shape and orientation, hand movements, body posture, and facial expressions. Solving this problem computationally for a large vocabulary of signs in real life settings is still a challenge, even with the state-of-the-art models. In this study, we present a new large-scale multi-modal Turkish Sign Language dataset (AUTSL) with a benchmark and provide baseline models for performance evaluations. Our dataset consists of 226 signs performed by 43 different signers and 38,336 isolated sign video samples in total. Samples contain a wide variety of backgrounds recorded in indoor and outdoor environments. Moreover, spatial positions and the postures of signers also vary in the recordings. Each sample is recorded with Microsoft Kinect v2 and contains color image (RGB), depth, and skeleton modalities. We prepared benchmark training and test sets for user independent assessments of the models. We trained several deep learning based models and provide empirical evaluations using the benchmark; we used Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) to extract features, unidirectional and bidirectional Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) models to characterize temporal information. We also incorporated feature pooling modules and temporal attention to our models to improve the performances. We evaluated our baseline models on AUTSL and Montalbano datasets. Our models achieved competitive results with the state-of-the-art methods on Montalbano dataset, i.e. 96.11% accuracy. In AUTSL random train-test splits, our models performed up to 95.95% accuracy. In the proposed user-independent benchmark dataset our best baseline model achieved 62.02% accuracy. The gaps in the performances of the same baseline models show the challenges inherent in our benchmark dataset. AUTSL benchmark dataset is publicly available at https://cvml.ankara.edu.tr.