Here is a collection of some good apps for teaching and learning sign language with a particular focus on American Sign Language (ASL).
Whether you are a parent, a teacher, a person with hearing problems, or a person interested in learning an important communicative language, the apps below are some of the best options to start with.
[ Related: Best resources for learning a new language]
These sign language apps help you develop your communication skills in sign language providing you with video lessons, interactive games, review exercises, and practice opportunities to take your sign language to the next level.
Importance of Sign Language learning Apps
Sign language learning apps have immense potential to support and enhance students’ educational journey, especially in the context of inclusive education and language acquisition. Here are some reasons why these apps are so important:
- Promotes Inclusivity: Learning sign language helps bridge the communication gap between hearing individuals and those who are deaf or hard of hearing. It fosters an inclusive learning environment where every student, regardless of their hearing ability, can participate equally and effectively.
- Enhances Cognitive Abilities: Learning a new language, including sign language, boosts cognitive abilities such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and memory. It also enhances understanding of linguistic structures and communication nuances.
- Flexibility and Convenience: Sign language learning apps offer a flexible and convenient way for students to learn at their own pace. They can practice anytime and anywhere, revisit lessons as often as needed, and track their progress over time.
- Interactive Learning: Many of these apps incorporate games, quizzes, and interactive activities that make the learning process fun and engaging, thereby improving motivation and retention.
- Visual Learning: As sign language is visual in nature, learning through apps supports visual learners and enhances visual-spatial skills. It helps in developing better hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, and observation skills.
- Cultural Understanding: Learning sign language also provides an insight into Deaf culture, promoting cultural sensitivity and understanding. It encourages respect for diversity and the acknowledgment of different communication styles.
- Career Opportunities: Proficiency in sign language can open up new career opportunities in fields such as education, healthcare, social work, and interpreting services.
Best Apps to Learn Sign Language
Here are our picks for the best apps to learn sign language
1. The ASL App
The ASL App helps you learn conversational ASL in easy and intuitive ways using video lessons. The app offers educational resources to help with learning phrases and signs covering various topics including: pop culture, social medial, sports, education, family signs, celebration signs, colors, country name signs, signs related to time, signs related to natural environment, signs and phrases related to food, dining signs, signs related to looks, and many more.
2. ASL Dictionary
ASL Dictionary contains is a comprehensive American Sign Language video dictionary. It contains over 5200 signed words, over 700 multiple meaning words signed, and 473 idioms translated. Using ASL Dictionary can enable people with hearing problems easily translate English into ASL.
The dictionary also features signs for common English phrases, numerical system, time, dates, and more. ASL Dictionary does not require Internet connection. Once installed, you can access videos offline.
3. Hands On ASL
Hands Ona ASL is an educational app that helps users learn the basics of communication using American Sign Language. More specifically, the app helps users practice their fingerspelling using 3D models and game style quizzes.
The 3D models can be easily zoomed and rotated allowing learners to see the hand shapes from various perspectives. Users can access over 26 hand signs to learn and review alphabet. They can also customize hand with unique skin tones.
Compatibility: iOS / Price: Free- offers in-app purchases / Age: 4+
4. ASL Translator
ASL Translator is a sign language app that offers two main services: a text to sign translation which enables users to translate English into ASL signs, and ASL phrases which help users learn how to sign ASL idioms and phrases. ASL Translator contains over 30,000 words and over 14000 idioms and phrases.
The app also supports translation of entire books, emails, documents, and more. ‘Type a sentence, or cut and paste text into the text box and see the video translation in real time. (up to 50 words at a time).’
5. ASL Fingerspelling Practice
As its name indicates, ASL Fingerspelling Practice sign language learners practice their ASL fingerspelling skills. The app offers two modes: a Receptive ode which enables learners to watch words fingerspelled before they practice typing them, and an Expressive mode in which learners practice fingerspelling words displayed on the screen.
Compatibility: iOS / Price: Free / Age: 9+
6. ASL American Sign Language
ASL American Sign Language helps users communicate using ASL. Besides learning alphabets A-Z and numbers 1-100, the app also offers sogned commonly used phrases in conversations and vocabulary, ASL history, facts and figures about ASL, and more.
Other features provided include: a picture matching game to play ASL words and numbers, 100 basic signs with video covering topics such as family, place, and time, and many more.
Lingvano helps users learn American Sign Language (ASL) through interactive lessons and dialogs. Lingvano also offers an integrated dictionary for American Sign Language that enables users to search for any sign or sentence.
Using the app’s sign mirror users can confidently practice signing the right way. ASL lessons are provided by teachers who ‘are Deaf and share a strong passion for teaching Sign Languages.’
8. ASL Kids
ASL Kids is an interesting sign language app designed specifically for young learners. The app helps yougnsters learn ti siugn throygh video content provided by other kids. Resources provieed by ASL Kids include interactive quiz games, fingerspelling, 50 free signs, clickable visuals and images, educational videos, and many more.
‘The app is kid-proof and was designed to be used without the help of an adult. There are no external links or ads, so no internet connection is needed to work the app.’
SignSchool helps users learn American Sign Language at their own pace. The app offers an integrated dictionary that contains thousands of signs from various dialects and group of signers. Users can browse tons of sign categories covering various topics.
They can also use miltiple choice games to reinforce and review their learned materials and play with SignBuilder to build their ASL vocabulary.