The coolest thing about the iPad, for me, is that it becomes basically this powerful walking library.
Yeah, it has games. Forget that. BOOKS. MOVIES. COMICS. DICTIONARIES. AUGMENTED REALITY PLANETARIUMS. And all this is in your hand – or your backpack. Now, several countries are releasing SL apps and we have the benefit of becoming acquainted with their national signed languages. Here’s a list of some awesome ones (all seem to have iPhone counterparts too, so check out the developer link in iTunes to see what’s best for your device):
JAPANESE SIGN LANGUAGE: Let’s start with DeafJapan’s great creation, the ASL-JSL dictionary! This is actually sort of quadrolingual – you have English and ASL on one side of a card, and Japanese/JSL on the other. Seems like a great way to practice many languages – although I’d love to see video.
SPANISH SIGN LANGUAGE: Lengua de Signos Española! This video dictionary contains the basics and seems like a great way to get ready for a trip to Barcelona or Madrid!
… unless you prefer DUTCH SIGN LANGUAGE: Nederlands Gebarencentrum – another simple but useful and versatile dictionary… if you know German. But as a Deaf person familiar with several signed languages, it was easy for me to figure out many words.
…but what if you want serious wine and a discothéque? FRENCH SIGN LANGUAGE: this simple app is designed for your iPhone, but works on the iPad too. Warning though – it requires you to download dictionaries, and again, everything’s in French. Also, something looks funny with the videos, but I can’t tell what, exactly. Still, a fantastic resource – especially since LSF is the linguistic “mother” of ASL.
…and let’s remember that just because people use the same spoken language doesn’t mean they use the same signed language! AUSTRALIAN SIGN LANGUAGE: This app gives you some basic vocabulary. (No cracks about using two hands down under, please.)
…but what about ASL? Frankly, I haven’t seen impressive ASL dictionaries; most of them seem designed for babies. (Wouldn’t a sleek, gorgeous ASL dictionary designed for Deaf adults complete with backgrounds for signs etc. etc. be the sexiest app EVER?) One app I thought was extremely cool, however, was “Danny the Dragon Meets Jimmy.” This incredibly cute storybook’s fun for kids of all ages, and is beautifully written in English, drawn, and signed in ASL.
Have any favorite sign language apps? Did you try one of these? Please drop a comment – and let’s have some multicultural fun! I’d love to have an app for every sign language in the world. Just because I’m geeky that way.