Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing
Do you want to learn how to communicate with the Deaf community or people with hearing loss who may use American Sign Language (ASL)? Or interested in learning a new language? Just like so many other things, there’s an app for that.
Thanks to today’s technology, anyone with an iPhone, Android smartphone or tablet can learn ASL basics or practice its techniques. To help you get started, we’ve assembled a list of popular apps.
Sign language apps for both iPhone and Android
iTunes: 3.7 stars (free, in-app purchases
Google Play: 3.8 stars (free, in-app purchases)
This app was designed by bilingual (English and ASL) Deaf people and is meant to teach conversational ASL. Using more than 1000 videos, it’s packed with features to make learning ASL fun and easy.
My Smart Hands Baby Sign Language Dictionary ($0.99)
iTunes: 3.9 stars
Created by the makers of My Smart Hands, an international baby sign language program with more than 150 instructors in more than 10 countries, this app features 45 minutes of instructional video from ASL instructor and My Smart Hands founder Laura Berg. The video dictionary demonstrates ASL signs and explains how to make, remember and understand them.
Baby Sign Language Dictionary ($2.99)
For kids 5 and under
Languages: English, Simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese
This app includes 40 real-life signing video demonstrations to help you learn to sign with your baby. Each sign has a detailed video tutorial and is organized into categories such as action words, animals, daily routines and feelings. The app also comes with a fun interactive video quiz to help you learn and remember the signs.
Hands On ASL (free, in-app purchases)
A playful user interface using 3D models to view signs from all angles makes this app a fun and unique learning tool. The playful user interface focuses on teaching the alphabet with fingerspelling exercises and even includes some customized skin color options.
iPhone and iPad only
ASL Coach (free, in-app purchases)
iTunes: Rated 2.9 stars
iOS 4.3 or later
If you’re just beginning, this app will teach you to sign the alphabet and numbers one through nine. In coach mode, users can watch and follow along.
ASL Fingerspelling ($3.99)
iTunes: 4 stars
This app is a practice tool designed to help improve the ability to read fingerspelling. Users can choose the word length (2-any) and speed (slow to fast) of the fingerspelling, record their answer and keep score. An expert mode is available as ability increases.
Marlee Signs (free, in-app purchases)
iTunes: 3.3 stars
Academy Award winning deaf actress, Marlee Matlin, teaches the fundamentals of ASL, from the signed alphabet and basic vocabulary through common expressions in everyday life. Each lesson is broken down into individual videos so users can learn at their own pace. The app keeps track of completed lessons and features a “slow motion” setting to allow viewing in greater detail.
WeSign Basic (free)
iTunes: 3.0 stars
This app teaches ASL relating to school, helping parents ask common questions of their deaf children such as, “Did you finish your homework?” Videos feature Deaf adults asking questions of Deaf children with various answers. Features include normal and slow play modes as well as resources to learn more about American Sign Language.
Other apps for hearing loss
If you or a loved one has hearing loss or are concerned about noise levels, see our other articles on apps:
These apps can be very helpful in specific situations, but they are not a replacement for good hearing healthcare or properly fit hearing aids. Our directory can help you find hearing clinics near you.