Learn sign language with iPhone and iPad apps

By Posted 23 Aug 2011, 16:21

Sign Languages have existed since deaf people have been around. Universally, where the deaf can be found, a manual form of conveying communication can also be found. The recorded history of sign language in Western societies extends from the 16th century, as a visual language or method of communication. Sign language is composed of a system of conventional gestures, mimic, hand signs and finger spelling, plus the use of hand positions to represent the letters of the alphabet. Signs usually represent complete ideas, not only individual words.

The written history of sign language began in the 17th century in Spain. In 1620, Juan Pablo Bonet published Reducción de las letras y arte para enseñar a hablar a los mudos (‘Reduction of letters and art for teaching mute people to speak’) in Madrid. It is considered the first modern treaty of phonetics and speech therapy, setting out a method of oral education for the deaf by means of the use of manual signs, in the form of a manual alphabet to improve communication among and with the deaf. Standardized sign languages have been used in Spain and Italy since the 17th century. There are some differences between American and British Sign Language, for historical reasons so we thought we would find a few apps on both.

SIGN language Email Keyboard by G.P. Imports, Inc. is a great way to communicate using sign language on the iPhone. Available for £0.69/$0.99 through the iTunes App Store this application allows the user to learn this timeless and crucial language. This easy to use app sends emails with Sign language in it. Using a regular keyboard every time a key is typed, the hand symbols appear in the email’s body. This is the perfect application for sending important information without everyone being able to read and ideal for learning this language.

Sign Language! by EverydayASL.com is free to download at the App Store. Learn how to fingerspell words, numbers, express basic sentences, idioms and learn about deaf culture with this easy to use app. With new hundred words in sentences, users can access idioms and phrases in ASL sentence examples.

ASL Dictionary by AppSavers.com is the ideal application that contains over 4,800 signed words. Available at the App Store for £1.99/$2.99 this is the most complete ASL American Sign Language Video Dictionary.learn to translate English into ASL, from A-Z, plus the entire numerical system, common English phrases, symbols and much more. Find 765 multiple meaning words signed and 55 Idioms translated. Watch a professional Sign Language interpreter and instructor sign over 4,800 individual and multiple word signs.

Everyday BSL Dictionary by Signers Republic is a comprehensive British Sign Language dictionary available for £4.99 at the App Store. Now a recommended text for Level 1 & 2 BSL education this app gives the user access to over 2400 signs. Periodically updated as new signs emerge.

Sign Language and Hand Talk – LAZ Reader [Level L–second grade] by Language Technologies, Inc. is a great learning application for £0.69/$0.99 at the App Store. Read about the ways people and other animals communicate with their hands. The text, photos, and illustrations explain how deaf people, babies, and other animals communicate with their hands. Students also learn about the history of sign language and about famous people who have used sign language. View and discuss questions after the reading to assist knowledge and comprehension.

Using these applications can help people who have deaf relatives and friends. Learning to communicate with deaf people can also help them feel less isolated. You may want to communicate with someone in private or share an opinion. Maybe you work with deaf people and you are the one who is left out when it comes to communication.

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