6 of the best sign language apps for ASL (2022)

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Sign language apps are learning tools that use images, videos, games, dictionaries, and interactive lessons to help people learn sign language on their smartphone or tablet.

6 of the best sign language apps for ASL (1)Share on Pinterest

Sign language is a form of communication that uses hand and arm movements, facial expressions, and body gestures.

In the United States, American Sign Language (ASL) is the third most studied language after Spanish and French.

This article discusses how sign language apps work and whether they are effective learning tools. It also looks at some of the best ASL apps available and some alternative ways to learn the language.

Sign language apps provide common signs, including those for letters, numbers, and everyday words and phrases. The app will usually show images of the signs, as well as video clips that people can follow to practice the movement.

Although most apps act as dictionaries that people can use to browse for words and phrases, some are interactive and offer games and quizzes to help people associate signs with their meanings more quickly.

It is important to note that these apps rarely account for regional variations of ASL and are not a replacement for a live ASL interpreter.

(Video) 25 ASL Signs You Need to Know | ASL Basics | American Sign Language for Beginners

Sign language apps can help people learn various signs in a matter of days, as most of them contain signs for basic words and phrases. However, some may lack content for more advanced signers.

The National Association of the Deaf describes sign language as a visual language, with the receiver interpreting the signer’s body movement and facial expressions.

Although pictures and images may be sufficient for basic signs, such as letters and numbers, some signs contain gestural components that are crucial for their meaning. Due to this, apps with short video clips may be more effective than those that only provide pictures.

In a 2019 study, researchers found that teaching children mathematical concepts using sign language through an app was more effective than the traditional means of using flashcards and boards.

Research has also shown software applications to be more motivating and engaging for users — including deaf or hard-of-hearing young adults, and parents and caregivers of deaf children — than books or websites.

Another study showed that most people who want to study sign language prefer learning through online formats rather than traditional face-to-face setups.

Many apps are available to help people learn ASL. Below, we look at six of the best options.

(Video) 20+ Basic Sign Language Phrases for Beginners | ASL

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these apps. All information is purely research-based.

ASL American Sign Language

ASL American Sign Language helps people learn alphabet and number signs alongside commonly used phrases. It also provides information on the history of ASL.

This app has tutorials on finger spelling and basic words. Picture matching and memory games are also available.

There are several videos of a person signing familiar nursery rhymes and songs, making the app useful for learning ASL with young children.

The app is available on iPhone and Android for free, with in-app purchases available.

Lingvano

Lingvano comes with several features to help people learn and memorize ASL. It has a variety of dialog clips showing people signing with corresponding subtitles in English.

An ASL dictionary and vocabulary trainers are available through the app.

The app also has a sign mirror option that allows users to copy a person doing a sign while projecting their image for feedback. All sign language teachers for Lingvano are deaf.

Lingvano is available on iPhone and Android for free, with subscriptions available.

ASL Dictionary

ASL Dictionary is a comprehensive resource that includes more than 5,200 ASL videos. People can play the videos in slow motion, loop them, and add them to a favorites list.

The app allows a person to browse for words, including idioms and words with multiple meanings, and to learn different signs for a particular word or phrase.

This app works without internet connection and has no audio.

The app is available on iPhone and Android for $4.99, with no additional in-app purchases or adverts.

(Video) American Sign Language (ASL) Lesson 06 (Katelyn) (1080p)

Pocket Sign

Pocket Sign gives a person free daily lessons, introducing common signs by categories. Daily lessons come with tips and questions.

The app puts recently introduced words together in a video and asks the person to read them. A person can refresh their memory using the app’s sign video dictionary and study feature.

This app also has lessons on baby sign language.

Pocket Sign is available on iPhone and Android for free, with in-app purchases available.

ASL Translator

ASL Translator provides a “text-to-sign” translator. Users can enter up to 50 words at a time into the text box to generate a seamless sign language video. However, the output is in English word order, so it may not appear exactly how a person would usually sign it.

The app’s ability to recognize more than 30,000 words and 1,400 phrases and idioms may allow users to translate documents, emails, and even books into ASL. Numbers, dates, and names are translatable. Users can also copy and paste text into the app for translation.

People can also slow, fast forward, rewind, or loop videos, which use finger spelling for any words that are not available on the database.

A person will need Wi-Fi connection to use the app, which has no audio.

ASL Translator is available on iPhone and Android for $4.99.

American Sign Language Finger Spelling Game

American Sign Language Finger Spelling is suitable for children and adult beginners who wish to learn the alphabet, number signs, and basic words.

It comes with more than 140 practice cards and in excess of 80 finger spelling and sign language activities and games.

American Sign Language Finger Spelling Game is available on Android for free.

Apps may not be an effective way for everyone to learn a language. Some people may prefer to learn sign language through other options, such as websites, online courses, or group classes.

Some alternative options to ASL apps include:

  • StartASL.com: This site gives people access to three complete courses for three ASL levels. It also offers paid courses for advanced ASL.
  • Gallaudet University ASL Connect: People can access free ASL videos in several categories alongside interactive lessons on this site. They can also pay for online ASL classes.
  • Handspeak: Handspeak is a free online dictionary resource containing a range of sign video clips. It also has lessons, tutorials, and tips for ASL learners and a child’s wordbook that features children signing.

Many local ASL groups are available throughout the U.S., often in association with local deaf community organizations. People can search for local classes to learn ASL in person or connect with other people who use ASL.

(Video) Learning Tool Exploration: ASL Pocket Sign

Sign language apps are a convenient option for learning sign language. A range of apps is available with different features, such as translation capabilities, dictionaries, and lessons.

A person should check the app’s features to see whether it meets their learning needs. For example, they should consider whether the app is suitable for teaching children, if relevant.

It is also advisable to check whether internet connection is necessary to use the app and whether a person will need to make in-app purchases to access useful content.

Researching customer reviews for different apps can help people choose the best app for their learning style and needs.

FAQs

Do any language apps teach ASL? ›

Marlee Signs (free, in-app purchases)

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.

Is there an app like Duolingo for ASL? ›

Lingvano is an interactive way to learn ASL. The activities are fun and the lessons help you learn how to connect signs into sentences to have a conversation. Lingvano makes learning sign language into a game. The lesson style is very similar to Duolingo.

How long does it take to become fluent in ASL? ›

Overall, it can take several years of regular study and practice to become fluent in sign language. It may take from three months to three years to learn sign language. Moreover, it's all about your learning goal setting, and it all depends on your end goal.

Does Duolingo do BSL? ›

Duolingo teaches 19 languages for free, but BSL isn't currently an option.

How much is the ASL app? ›

INTRODUCING THE ASL APP PACK - GET EVERYTHING FOR ONLY $9.99.

How good is Lingvano? ›

Overall, Lingvano is a very good platform that brings fun to the sometimes difficult task of learning a language. Visit Lingvano's website to create a free account and trial the courses. Access to the whole course costs between $9.99 and $17.99 a month, depending on whether you pay monthly, quarterly, or annually.

What is the best ASL dictionary? ›

The Best Sign Language Dictionary Recommendations
  • Religious Signing: A Comprehensive Guide For All Faiths. ...
  • American Sign Language Dictionary, Third Edition. ...
  • The Gallaudet Dictionary of American Sign Language. ...
  • The American Sign Language Handshape Dictionary. ...
  • Random House Webster's American Sign Language Dictionary.
15 Feb 2021

Is ASL hard to learn? ›

Sign language is one of the easiest languages to learn. So many of the signs are commonplace gestures. Children pick up on the signs quickly and are eager to use them. The fact that it is easy helps encourage the learning.

How can I learn ASL for free? ›

One of the easiest ways to learn sign language is through YouTube tutorials. The video hosting site has dozens of teachers who give free lessons on how to sign the alphabet, common phrases, numbers, and more.

What is the hand signal for I Love You? ›

To sign I love you in American Sign Language (ASL), point out your thumb and index finger to form an “L”. While keeping them extended, lift your little finger. Your middle and ring finger keep touching your palm. Finally, direct your hand towards the person you are talking to.

Can deaf people read? ›

Thus, a majority of deaf children (and deaf adults) are not able to get much meaning from print. However, some profoundly deaf individuals do learn to read, and are as proficient at reading as their normally hearing peers.

Is Duolingo free to use? ›

Learning a language on Duolingo is completely free, but you can remove ads and support free education with Super.

Can I teach myself ASL? ›

All in all, it is not really possible to teach yourself ASL. If you want to start holding meaningful conversations in ASL, you will need formal instruction and practice. However, it is possible to learn basics like the ASL alphabet to get a head start.

Is ASL worth learning? ›

Learning sign language and any other foreign languages is good for the brain. It enhances cognition, and creative and abstract thinking. It even has the added benefit of improving hand and eye coordination. It exercises the peripheral vision, training you to become more aware of the environment.

How many ASL signs are there? ›

ASL possesses a set of 26 signs known as the American manual alphabet, which can be used to spell out words from the English language. Such signs make use of the 19 handshapes of ASL.

What's the easiest language to learn? ›

15 of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers -...
  • Frisian. Frisian is thought to be one of the languages most closely related to English, and therefore also the easiest for English-speakers to pick up. ...
  • Dutch. ...
  • Norwegian. ...
  • Spanish. ...
  • Portuguese. ...
  • Italian. ...
  • French. ...
  • Swedish.
24 Oct 2021

Can I become an ASL interpreter online? ›

Can you take ASL classes online? Several colleges and universities offer ASL classes online. Distance learners receive the same education as their on-campus peers.

Is ASL a universal language? ›

There is no universal sign language. Different sign languages are used in different countries or regions. For example, British Sign Language (BSL) is a different language from ASL, and Americans who know ASL may not understand BSL. Some countries adopt features of ASL in their sign languages.

Is Bright BSL free? ›

Bright BSL is available to download for free on Google Play and the App Store.

Is ASL very different from BSL? ›

ASL and BSL are Very Different

Even the alphabet is signed very differently. In ASL, letters are signed with one hand while BSL uses two, so even using fingerspelling to spell out words would be difficult.

What is the BSL Act 2022? ›

The Act will create greater recognition and understanding of BSL, and inclusion and equality for BSL users by: Legally recognising BSL as a language for England, Wales, and Scotland. Requiring government departments to report on how they are promoting and facilitating the use of BSL.

Is there Google Translate for ASL? ›

The easy-to-use innovative digital interpreter dubbed as "Google translator for the deaf and mute" works by placing a smartphone in front of the user while the app translates gestures or sign language into text and speech.

How do you say hi in ASL? ›

To perform the sign “hello” in American Sign Language (ASL), simply place the hand you are writing with on your forehead close to your ear and move it outwards and away from your body. Don't forget to smile!

Who invented ASL? ›

The first person credited with the creation of a formal sign language for the hearing impaired was Pedro Ponce de León, a 16th-century Spanish Benedictine monk. His idea to use sign language was not a completely new idea.

How do you practice in ASL? ›

I Have No One To Sign With... What Do I Do? ASL Stew - YouTube

What is the best online ASL dictionary? ›

ASLPro. One of the best online ASL dictionaries with a large video library. It also features a selection of quizzes and games so you can put what you learn into practice.

How do you say part in ASL? ›

American Sign Language: "fart" / "flatulence"

The dominant hand is a bent hand and is held so that the fingers are underneath the pinkie side of the non-dominant "fist." The dominant hand "unbends" and bends one time as if showing gas escaping.

Is Spanish easier than ASL? ›

Deaf people from different countries often struggle to communicate, much the way speakers of other languages do. Linguists overwhelmingly dismiss the notion that ASL is easy to learn, even though it lacks a written literature and comes more quickly to some students than spoken languages.

What is the hardest language to learn? ›

Mandarin Chinese

Interestingly, the hardest language to learn is also the most widely spoken native language in the world. Mandarin Chinese is challenging for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the writing system is extremely difficult for English speakers (and anyone else) accustomed to the Latin alphabet.

Why is there a no voice policy in ASL classes? ›

The no talking aloud rule helps students focus on what they are saying with their hands, Knox said. “It helps them learn the syntax and sentence structure. If they are talking (aloud), they can't do that.” All of her students — beginners and advanced alike — are scheduled to be silent for an entire day in the spring.

Where do I start with ASL? ›

You can start learning ASL by attending a sign language class. Sign language classes can be found at community colleges, universities, libraries, churches, organizations/clubs of the deaf, and lots of other places.

How are you in deaf language? ›

First, sign how. Put your fingers together, thumbs up, and then roll them forward. How. Then point: you.

How hard is ASL Reddit? ›

Going from zero to basic in ASL is different than going from basic to intermediate. You can learn to have basic conversations in a few months. You can become a good intermediate signer in about two years (with consistent practice). Going from intermediate to skilled is challenging and takes several additional years.

What does thumb and pinky mean? ›

A shaka sign – the unmistakable pinky and thumb salute – is the ultimate symbol of Aloha and local culture in Hawaii. Interpreted to mean “hang loose” or “right on,” the Hawaiian Shaka is a constant reminder that in Hawaii, it is not the norm to worry or rush.

How do you say I love you to a baby? ›

To sign I love you, put up your thumb, index finger and pinkie finger, while keeping your ring finger and your middle finger down. Hold the hand out, palm facing away from you and move it back and forth slightly.

How do deaf people call 911? ›

People who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing may text 911 or call 911 using their preferred form of phone communication (including voice, TTY, video relay, caption relay, or real-time text). If you do text 911 in an emergency, be aware that 911 dispatchers will ask you if they can call you.

Do deaf babies cry? ›

Results. Mean duration of cries in the deaf group was 0.5845 ± 0.6150 s (range 0.08-5.2 s), while in the group of normal hearing cases was 0.5387 ± 0.2631 (range 0.06-1.75 s). From the deaf group, five cases had very prolonged duration of cries, without statistical significance.

How does a deaf person call 000? ›

For people who are Deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech difficulty. Call Triple Zero 000 with TTY or Speak and Listen. Your call gets answered fast. TTY users call 106.

Is Rosetta Stone better than Duolingo? ›

Yes. After thoroughly testing out and reviewing each language learning app, we found Rosetta Stone to be a superior program to Duolingo. While we like Duolingo's gamification of learning, Rosetta Stone is simply more comprehensive and effective.

How far can Duolingo take you? ›

Where you stand after finishing a Duolingo course. An average Duolingo tree introduces you to about 2,000 words. It should be more than enough to get a good sense of how the language works and hold most everyday conversations. Not bad for a free online course.

How much is Duolingo monthly? ›

Duolingo Plus Pricing Explained

The app is entirely free. However, Duolingo Plus is priced at $6.99 per month. A free trial for 14 days is available. Sometimes, the trial can be restricted to 7 days as well.

How can I learn ASL for free? ›

One of the easiest ways to learn sign language is through YouTube tutorials. The video hosting site has dozens of teachers who give free lessons on how to sign the alphabet, common phrases, numbers, and more.

Is ASL hard to learn? ›

Sign language is one of the easiest languages to learn. So many of the signs are commonplace gestures. Children pick up on the signs quickly and are eager to use them. The fact that it is easy helps encourage the learning.

Is BSL on Duolingo? ›

Duolingo teaches 19 languages for free, but BSL isn't currently an option.

Does Duolingo really work? ›

Duolingo is not a stand-alone language course, but it's an excellent addition to a language learner's toolbox. It's easy to use, it's fun and it works. Don't forget to do the homework, though. If your aim is to achieve real fluency, remember to read, speak, and truly live the language that you're learning!

Can I teach myself ASL? ›

All in all, it is not really possible to teach yourself ASL. If you want to start holding meaningful conversations in ASL, you will need formal instruction and practice. However, it is possible to learn basics like the ASL alphabet to get a head start.

Where do I start with ASL? ›

You can start learning ASL by attending a sign language class. Sign language classes can be found at community colleges, universities, libraries, churches, organizations/clubs of the deaf, and lots of other places.

What is the easiest language to learn? ›

15 of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers -...
  • Frisian. Frisian is thought to be one of the languages most closely related to English, and therefore also the easiest for English-speakers to pick up. ...
  • Dutch. ...
  • Norwegian. ...
  • Spanish. ...
  • Portuguese. ...
  • Italian. ...
  • French. ...
  • Swedish.
24 Oct 2021

How many ASL signs are there? ›

ASL possesses a set of 26 signs known as the American manual alphabet, which can be used to spell out words from the English language. Such signs make use of the 19 handshapes of ASL.

Is Spanish easier than ASL? ›

Deaf people from different countries often struggle to communicate, much the way speakers of other languages do. Linguists overwhelmingly dismiss the notion that ASL is easy to learn, even though it lacks a written literature and comes more quickly to some students than spoken languages.

Is ASL worth learning? ›

Learning sign language and any other foreign languages is good for the brain. It enhances cognition, and creative and abstract thinking. It even has the added benefit of improving hand and eye coordination. It exercises the peripheral vision, training you to become more aware of the environment.

Is Bright BSL free? ›

Bright BSL is available to download for free on Google Play and the App Store.

Is Lingvano worth? ›

Overall, Lingvano is a very good platform that brings fun to the sometimes difficult task of learning a language. Visit Lingvano's website to create a free account and trial the courses. Access to the whole course costs between $9.99 and $17.99 a month, depending on whether you pay monthly, quarterly, or annually.

Is there a BSL app? ›

Sign BSL – This is available for Android and Apple devices and for free online at www.signbsl.com.

Is Rosetta Stone better than Duolingo? ›

Yes. After thoroughly testing out and reviewing each language learning app, we found Rosetta Stone to be a superior program to Duolingo. While we like Duolingo's gamification of learning, Rosetta Stone is simply more comprehensive and effective.

Which is better Babbel or Duolingo? ›

Is Babbel better than Duolingo? After thoroughly testing out and reviewing each language learning program, we feel that Babbel is better than Duolingo for multiple reasons. Based on the strength of their curriculum, teaching style and delivery, we rate Babbel as the superior app over Duolingo.

How far can Duolingo take you? ›

Where you stand after finishing a Duolingo course. An average Duolingo tree introduces you to about 2,000 words. It should be more than enough to get a good sense of how the language works and hold most everyday conversations. Not bad for a free online course.

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