Children of any age will find this app easy to use. The colors are engaging and the videos feature children signing, making the app relatable. There are three main components: a sign dictionary, a game, and manual alphabet. Pictures with text below are available for beginner readers or early readers. Other features include a voice option, a printed word, and a video. Realistic hand illustrations of the manual alphabet make it easy to imitate the signs. The game “Which sign is it?” gives immediate feedback and allows for repeated attempts through a multiple-choice quiz. The right answer is rewarded with a chocolate cupcake and the wrong one elicits a frown with the phrase, “The correct answer was ___,” and the right symbol is shown.
There are several incorrect handshapes in the alphabet such as an archaic F (all fingers stuck together), I and J (with a non-native thumb across the fingers), N (signed downwards), and X (thumb hidden by other fingers). In the lite-version 21-sign set, most of the signers show very few facial expressions and more than half of the signs are incorrect. For example, the sign for “deer” has “antlers” resting on the head instead of moving outwards and the sign for “red” has only one movement. Further, when the signer asks “Want some?,” the eyebrows do not move at all.
In sum, this app is kid-friendly and teaches signs for very basic communication needs. It could be turned into a dictionary if more vocabulary words were included. However, better sign language models and more proper use of ASL grammar would improve this app.
In a Nutshell:
- Provides signed videos for 108 words
- Illustrations for manual alphabet
- Has several inaccurate signs, alphabet, and facial expressions
- Website: http://www.asl-kids.com/
- App Store: iTunes
- App Developer: Bas van der Will
- Platforms: Android 4.0 or above, iPhone 4 or newer
- Price: Free, buy “ASL Dictionary” bundle of 87 new signs for $1.99
- Year: 2013
- Format: Dictionary/Vocabulary Words
- Videotaped Signs
- Search for Signs
- Multiple-Choice Quiz
- Languages available: American Sign Language and Spoken English