A Survey on Artificial Intelligence in Chinese Sign Language Recognition

Xianwei Jiang, Suresh Chandra Satapathy, Longxiang Yang, Shui Hua Wang*, Yu Dong Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Chinese Sign Language (CSL) offers the main means of communication for the hearing impaired in China. Sign Language Recognition (SLR) can shorten the distance between the hearing-impaired and healthy people and help them integrate into the society. Therefore, SLR has become the focus of sign language application research. Over the years, the continuous development of new technologies provides a source and motivation for SLR. This paper aims to cover the most recent approaches in Chinese Sign Language Recognition (CSLR). With a thorough review of superior methods from 2000 to 2019 in CSLR researches, various techniques and algorithms such as scale-invariant feature transform, histogram of oriented gradients, wavelet entropy, Hu moment invariant, Fourier descriptor, gray-level co-occurrence matrix, dynamic time warping, principal component analysis, autoencoder, hidden Markov model (HMM), support vector machine (SVM), random forest, skin color modeling method, k-NN, artificial neural network, convolutional neural network (CNN), and transfer learning are discussed in detail, which are based on several major stages, that is, data acquisition, preprocessing, feature extraction, and classification. CSLR was summarized from some aspect as follows: methods of classification and feature extraction, accuracy/performance evaluation, and sample size/datasets. The advantages and limitations of different CSLR approaches were compared. It was found that data acquisition is mainly through Kinect and camera, and the feature extraction focuses on hand’s shape and spatiotemporal factors, but ignoring facial expressions. HMM and SVM are used most in the classification. CNN is becoming more and more popular, and a deep neural network-based recognition approach will be the future trend. However, due to the complexity of the contemporary Chinese language, CSLR generally has a lower accuracy than other SLR. It is necessary to establish an appropriate dataset to conduct comparable experiments. The issue of decreasing accuracy as the dataset increases needs to resolve. Overall, our study is hoped to give a comprehensive presentation for those people who are interested in CSLR and SLR and to further contribute to the future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9859-9894
Number of pages36
JournalArabian Journal for Science and Engineering
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Artificial intelligence
  • Chinese Sign Language
  • Classification
  • Deep neural network
  • Feature extraction
  • Fingerspelling recognition
  • Gesture recognition
  • Machine learning


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