Assistant professor The interface between sign language grammar and AI

Assistant professor The interface between sign language grammar and AI

Published Deadline Location
7 Feb 12 Mar Amsterdam

You cannot apply for this job anymore (deadline was 12 Mar 2023).

Browse the current job offers or choose an item in the top navigation above.

Job description

In the context of the sector plan for the Humanities titled 'Tradition in transition', the faculty currently has a vacant Assistant Professor position as part of the research theme Humane AI. Within this research theme the focus is on data and platforms for social, cultural and economic innovation.

What are you going to do?

You will provide education in a dynamic context with ample opportunities for the development of innovative teaching methods. Your research will be part of the Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication (ACLC), one of the five research schools of the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research. The ACLC prioritises diversity (taken in a holistic sense, e.g., ethnicity, social and/or linguistic background, gender, sexuality) and is committed to creating an inclusive research environment.

It has been long acknowledged that current technological advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) can play an important role in breaking communication barriers between people using Sign Languages (SLs) and people using spoken languages. Progress in such applied AI, however, is only possible through a meticulous description and typology of sign language grammars. This knowledge will allow an informed collaboration with experts in AI and SL linguistics that can result in more accurate automatic extraction of the manual and non-manual components of sign language utterances and how these map onto meaning units. The latter is necessary to attain human-like sign language translations. We expect you to take up this challenge by developing a research line lying at the interface between studies on SLs and AI. You are a SL linguist with a broad knowledge of the typology and grammars of SLs, and well-positioned to connect the fields of theoretical linguistics and AI (e.g., computer vision, sign language recognition and sign language translation). You will develop and teach courses at all levels in the Sign Linguistics programme (such as introduction, transcription, phonology/morphology, and/or syntax of sign languages). You will also develop, implement and teach materials about the interface between (sign) linguistics, multimodal communication and AI in other relevant courses and, depending on your expertise, you will teach in courses that are part of programmes such as the BA Linguistics, BSc Cognition, Language & Communication, and/or the master programmes Language and Society; General Linguistics and the research master Linguistics and communication. These programmes adopt an interdisciplinary approach and you are expected to be open to fields that might not be directly related to your research focus. We welcome your commitment to the development of a stimulating and collaborative educational atmosphere for teachers and students alike.

Tasks and responsibilities:
  • Designing and conducting independent research on sign languages and applications thereof in AI resulting in academic publications in peer-reviewed international journals and/or books;
  • Pursuing external funding for research, notably funding from research councils, national as well as European or international;
  • Contributing to and developing (inter)national research networks and collaborative research initiatives;
  • Contributing actively to the research activities of the Sign Lab within the Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication (ACLC) and the Institute of Logic, Language, and Computation (ILLC,;
  • Developing, coordinating and teaching courses in our international Bachelor and Master programmes in the areas of sign linguistics and the interface between (sign) language and AI, such as (among others) the BA Linguistics, the BSc Cognition, Language and Communication, the MA programmes Language & Society; General Linguistics and the RMA Linguistics and Communication;
  • Supervising Bachelor and Master theses and tutoring students; co-supervising PhD theses;
  • Taking part in committees and working groups, and carrying out departmental administrative tasks as directed;
  • Actively contributing to the interdisciplinary collaboration of the sector plan research theme Humane AI;
  • Actively engage in the training of signer academics to empower their role in science.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


You are a dynamic and ambitious researcher with a strong profile, demonstrable by international publications and an international academic network. Your publications show broad knowledge of sign linguistics, familiarity with the application of technical tools to linguistic oriented research questions in SL grammars and typology and multimodal communication, and a strong affinity with artificial intelligence (e.g., corpus research including statistical analyses of corpus data, or experimental research on automatic extraction of the manual and non-manual components of sign language utterances, sign to text translation and vice-versa). Your research matches the research statement of the ACLC.

You are able to develop and provide modules on Sign Linguistics and the interface between (sign) Linguistics and AI technology. Important is proven flexibility in teaching on topics beyond your own research focus, a willingness to work in interdisciplinary teams of teachers and the ability to offer inspiring lectures and tutorials in our programmes that aspire to a wide range of students.

Your experience and profile:
  • You hold a PhD in sign linguistics with a strong focus on the grammar and typology of sign languages and a strong interest in contributing to the development of more efficient artificial intelligence technologies for sign languages. Your past and current research demonstrate this interest and shows evidence of using corpus analysis and/or experimental research on technical applications in sign language and/or multimodal communication;
  • You hold an international academic network in the research area concerned;
  • Your research output is commensurate with the level of the position;
  • You are an enthusiastic and ambitious researcher with a strong publication record;
  • You demonstrate the motivation and ability to obtain external research grants;
  • You have a broad and relevant teaching experience at BA and MA level;
  • You are familiar with digital and audiovisual teaching methods as well as with IT in university teaching context;
  • You have experience in knowledge utilization and practice-based education and/or research;
  • You are a team player and are able to interact with colleagues in the context of a multidisciplinary co-operation;
  • You have good organisational experience and skills;
  • You have acquired the Dutch Basic Teaching Qualification (or equivalent), or are willing to acquire this within the first two years.
  • You have an excellent command of English and Dutch. If Dutch is not your mother tongue, you are willing to learn Dutch as active and passive command must be acquired within two years of the employment contract and the state examination for Dutch as a Second Language programme II must be passed;

Conditions of employment

We offer permanent employment upon a satisfactory evaluation following a temporary employment contract of a maximum of 18 months with a probationary period of two months. If you already have an employment contract with the UvA, we offer permanent employment upon a satisfactory evaluation following a temporary employment contract of a maximum of 12 months. The employment is for 38 hours per week. Preferred starting date is 01 August 2023.

The gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week, ranges between € 3974 (scale 11) to € 6181 (scale 12) dependent on relevant experience. This sum does not include the 8% holiday allowance and the 8,3% year-end allowance. A favourable tax agreement, the '30% ruling', may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

We additionally offer:
  • the opportunity to collaborate in interdisciplinary teams;
  • excellent opportunities for study and personal development;
  • an inspiring academic and international working environment in the heart of Amsterdam.


Faculty of Humanities

The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands' largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 42,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.

The Faculty of Humanities provides education and conducts research with a strong international profile in a large number of disciplines in de field of language and culture. Located in the heart of Amsterdam, the faculty maintains close ties with many cultural institutes in the capital city. Research and teaching staff focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and are active in several teaching programmes.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


  • Assistant professor
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • max. €3974 per month
  • Doctorate
  • 11209


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

Learn more about this employer


Kloveniersburgwal 48, 1012CX, Amsterdam

View on Google Maps

Interesting for you