Signing Savvy Launches

By Brian Winn
Sunday, February 22, 2009

A little background

In 2005 we realized that, while there were a few good sign language resources on the web, there really was no site that provided a comprehensive reference for those learning sign language. The closest sites out there were the ASL Browser developed at Michigan State University and Signing Online. I was actually involved in the development of both these sites.

The ASL Browser was developed back in 1996-1997. At the time, the site was quite revolutionary. Digital video on the web was just in its infancy. We took the 2500 digital videos from the Personal Communicator CD-ROM developed by Michigan State University (winner of the Discover Magazine Software Innovation of the Year Award in 1995), organized them into a logical fashion, and placed them on the web. It has been the number one reference for American Sign Language on the web for over 10 years. However, it is now showing its age. The signs on the site are small, postage stamp sized videos (which was all that was possible when the site was created.) Further, the site lacks any search functionality or other interactive features, such as the ability to create word lists and print signs.

Signing Online was developed between 2000 and 2003. It is a wonderful series of online courses that teach American Sign Language. If you are looking to take a course and like the convenience of online instruction, I highly recommend them. Signing Online is primarily a set of courses, though. If you already are taking a course or if you already know some signing, what you really need is a reference tool.

Signing Savvy fills the void!

Signing Savvy contains a dictionary of several thousand high-quality video signs complete with sign description and English example sentences. You can find words by searching and by browsing by letter or a number of precompiled semantic word lists. Any word not in the dictionary can be fingerspelled. Best yet, like the ASL Browser, access to the video dictionary is provided free of charge! Our basic service is supported by ad revenue.

When working on Signing Savvy we realized that some of you require more tools and features to support your sign language learning. Therefore, we created a subscription-based member service. Membership adds the ability to view even larger, higher quality video, view video full-screen, print signs for reference off-line, build your own word lists, translate English phrases to a sequence of signs (based on the word order you type), view memory aids of signs, and more! You can preview some of these features by clicking on the link below the sign of the day.

It took us several years to get the site off the ground, but in January 2009 we launched!

What does the future hold for Signing Savvy?

While we already have several thousand signs covering over 5000 English words, we will be continually adding new signs each month, as well as new word lists. In addition to this blog, look forward to a discussion forum and other social networking features coming soon. We are also working on several new member services, such as the ability to quiz yourself or your friends.

Our goal is to be "Your Sign Language Resource!" Feel free to contact us and let us know your needs.

View/Add Comments (7 comments)