15. Navigation


Most signing books are still produced on videotape. To check if a video contains certain information, a viewer may have to play the entire video before knowing the answer. "Navigation aids" enable viewers to find information in a more efficient way, and to know where one is at each point in time in a production. 
Navigation aids are usually included in interactive productions (CD-ROM and DVD), but are at least as essential in longer productions on videotape that a viewer may want to watch over several sessions, or may not want to watch in its entirety. 
In printed, and even in interactive media, a 'table of contents' listing the various parts of a production in sequential order is the most common navigation aid. Since Deaf people are visual thinkers, visual maps may be a more effective or attractive alternative. 
In interactive media, the user may be able to control the size and location of the signer on the screen, the background colour of the signer, the speed of the signer and on DVD: one of several sign languages. Other options may include: with/without voice-over, with/without background music, with/without subtitles, size and colour of subtitles, language and language level of subtitles.

Navigation aids

Very often a viewer may not want to watch a video-production from beginning to end. To help a viewer select which parts to view and to find specific information on a video, navigation aids can be included. 


A longer production on videotape can be divided up into sections (chapter or even paragraph sized). Transitions between sections can be indicated with visuals or coloured screens, that are easy to spot even when the viewer is fast-forwarding the video. Each section can be identified with a number, name, icon, or time-code. If these remain visible in a corner of the screen, the user will always have an indication of where s/he is in a video. 
At the beginning of the production, the table of contents can be shown in text and/or or presented in sign language. A table of contents can be printed on the video-box, preferably with time-codes. If a transparent box is used for the videotape, the table of contents can be printed on the backside of the cover sleeve. The user will be able to read the text (provided it is printed in fairly large and bold print) through the transparent plastic, after opening the box.


DVD - which will soon replace videotape - may include additional navigation aids. A table of contents at the beginning of the production will allow the user to select which parts to view, and in which order. Preferably, the table of contents would not only list the names of the parts (or worse: part 1, part 2, part 3) but would also give some indication of the contents of each part, e.g. by means of a printed or signed summary, or a visual.


CD-ROM and DVD-ROM allow for even better navigation - provided that navigation aids have been included in the production. Navigation aids may include:
  • a table of contents or a visual map;
  • page forward, page back; 
  • stop, pause, replay;
  • back to the table of contents;
  • help;
  • search (text input);
  • hyperlinks to other sections or sub-programmes, e.g. a dictionary, footnotes, additional information, explanations;
  • bookmarks and notes: the user may be able to include personal bookmarks and/or notes (in print or sign language) for later reference and retrieval.

User control

In interactive media, the user may be able to adapt the programme to his/her personal preferences and needs. User control may include: 
  • setting the size and location of the signer on screen; 
  • the speed of the signer (e.g. slow motion, fast forward); 
  • the colour of the background;
  • in future productions that use animated signers (see Chapter 14) users may also be able to select the signer they want for a production (e.g. male or female, human or animal, personal or abstract); 
  • with DVDs, the user may be able to select one of several sign languages;
  • the use of sound: with or without voice-over, with or without background music. If voice-over and background music are both included in a production, the user should be able to set the volume for each independently of the other;
  • subtitles: with or without subtitles, the size, font and colour of subtitles; the language of the subtitles (e.g. English subtitles vs. French subtitles), and preferably the complexity level of subtitles (short easy-to-read subtitles vs. complete subtitles);
  • setting the size and location of other visuals on the screen.

User friendly!

All navigation and user control options should be transparent and easy to use, even for users with limited computer skills. More complicated instructions should be available in text as well as in sign language. All buttons should be easy to locate, see and understand, even for low-vision users. Help-files should be written in easy to read language, and should preferably be in printed as well as in sign language.



Chapter indicators  

Chapter title at the beginning of a new chapter: in print and in sign language. Aspecten van deVlaams-Belgische Gebarentaal,Fevlado, BE
On-screen indication of the chapter number.
Aspecten van de Vlaams- BelgischeGebarentaal, Fevlado, BE

Table of contents 

A table of contents (CD-ROM) in print and pictures;  the user can read chapters in any order. De Kijkbijbel, Effatha, NL

Instructions for use  

A CD-ROM for young Deaf children.
Instructions in small print that children 
in the intended age group will probably not be able to read!  Basil's World, Speciality Software, GB