An ASL Dictionary

Signing Savvy is a sign language dictionary containing several thousand high resolution videos of American Sign Language (ASL) signs, fingerspelled words, and other common signs used within the United States and Canada.

And Much More!

Signing Savvy is an ideal resource to use while you learn sign language. It includes the ability to view large sign videos, build your own word lists and share them with others, create virtual flash cards and quizzes, print signs, build sign phrases, ...and more

Sign of the Day - COOK
(as in verb, to cook)

All Articles

Countdown to Halloween - Favorite Seasonal Signs

General Interest   |  Wednesday, October 23, 2013

By John Miller

With Halloween next week, the countdown to Halloween has officially begun!

We asked everyone on our Signing Savvy Facebook Page what their favorite "seasonal signs" are. And the survey says…

Check out the Sign of the Day from now to Halloween to see each of these signs featured as we countdown to Halloween.

Join the conversation on our Signing Savvy Facebook Page or tell us your favorite seasonal sign for Halloween by leaving a comment below.


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Recap of Deaf Awareness Week

General Interest   |  Monday, September 30, 2013

By Jillian Winn

Yesterday (Sunday, September 29) was International Day of the Deaf and the end of Deaf Awareness Week.

Deaf Awareness Week, also called International Week of the Deaf (IWD), is celebrated annually and ends with International Day of the Deaf. Deaf Awareness Week is celebrated by national and regional associations of the deaf, local communities, and individuals worldwide.

There are many ways to participate in Deaf Awareness Week. Here are some ways people around the U.S. recognized Deaf Awareness Week last week:

The purpose of Deaf Awareness Week is to increase public awareness of deaf issues, people, and culture.  Activities and events throughout Deaf Awareness Week encourage individuals to come together as a community for both educational events and celebrations. Find more information on Deaf Awareness Week.

Share what you did during Deaf Awareness Week by leaving a comment below or telling us on our Facebook Page.


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Project Runway Designer Justin LeBlanc influenced by his deafness

General Interest   |  Wednesday, August 28, 2013

By Jillian Winn

This season's Project Runway, includes Justin LeBlanc, a deaf designer and assistant professor at the College of Design at North Carolina State University.

Project Runway's Justin LeBlanc

Justin is a talented designer with a background in architecture. He interned for Alexander McQueen and Nick Cave and was awarded a Louis Vuitton Scholarship while studying his master's degree.

Justin was born deaf and says, "My deafness has always influenced my design aesthetic." Being deaf has made him a more visual person - he depends on sight in order to understand people and the world around him. He says being a visual person naturally drew him to design and fashion design allows him to express his creativity.

"I have relied throughout my life on artificial means to provide some semblance of sound. The lack of natural hearing heightened my other senses resulting in a perception of the world that differs from that of a hearing person. I sense the world and all of its wonders through sight, touch, scent, and taste, but sound is often a distraction. This notion inspired the idea and direction of my own work and my artistic explorations."

Justin got his cochlear implant when he was 18 and that was the first time he heard anything. The experience inspired his design aesthetic while working on his master's degree at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He described hearing with the cochlear implant "like an invasion into my body and something that is unknown to me."  He says he hears things differently because "I only hear on one side, so therefore everything is 2D. I don’t have any depth to it, so everything I hear is pretty flat, while most people have depth to the sound." The experience inspired him to play around with the concept of altered states and how people see and respond to things differently in his designs.

Justin is a talented designer who incorporates structural elements from his architectural background and life experiences from being deaf into his designs. In addition to being a great designer, Justin is one of the most endearing cast members on Project Runway - he doesn't get caught up in drama in the workroom and gets along with everyone.

Justin in the Project Runway workroom

Last week's episode of Project Runway, called "Let's Go Glamping," had the designers go camping for inspiration for their designs. Justin said, "when I'm in the workroom I have the option of listening to everyone or working on my design," so the camping trip was a nice chance for him to connect with the other designers and get to know them better. It was fun to see Justin teach the other designers some signs during the trip.  Justin was intrigued by the running water of the nearby river at camp and asked the others, "Do each of you have a specific sound that you like to listen to?" (The funniest response was "quiet children"). Justin was inspired by the river water interacting with the rock and used an innovative glue gun technique to create a lace effect for an illusion of water. Unfortunately, the judges did not like his dress and he was voted off.  It was really sad and when Justin walked into the back room and told the other designers he was voted off everyone started crying and came together for a group hug (I have to admit, I got a little fiery-eyed at that point as well!).  Luckily, Tim Gunn came to the rescue with his "Tim Gunn Save" - he get's one save for the season and he used it for Justin because, as Tim said, "I believe that the judges made an error… I believe in your talent. You need a little more time here. I'm using my Tim Gunn save."

We hope Justin does well and we look forward to learning more about him and his design aesthetic on the rest of Project Runway this season.

Photo Credit: Project Runway Justin LeBlanc Season 12, Episode 6 Photos, Retrieved 8/28/13 from




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The Importance of Coupling Writing with Signing

Learning Tips   |  Monday, July 15, 2013

By John Miller

I know, you never thought you would hear me ("The Man in the Blue Shirt") say that deaf children are signing too much, right?  Well I say it only in perspective of comparing their signing skills to their writing skills.

I think there are often times in the field of Deaf Education that the parents, teachers and interpreters that are working with the deaf and hard of hearing population are just so excited that the children are beginning to express themselves through sign, that they don’t want to “slow them down” by making them think about putting these concepts they are signing into a written form.  It doesn’t help that sign language itself is language that is presented “in the air” and that American Sign Language does not have a written word for word counterpart that goes along nicely with English.  This is all the more reason for people working with our deaf and hard of hearing population to take the time to directly teach these skills to our students.

The written language is the way they will present themselves to the public through resumes, cover letters, notes and even social media.  Like it or not, the skills that you show through your written exchanges with people help them to determine your grasp of the English language and to many, rightfully or not, your intelligence.  Anyone who works with the deaf population knows that the link between intelligence and writing ability doesn't always go hand-in-hand, but that is the perception of the general public.

There are many ways to help students work on their writing skills.  We have discussed a few of them before in previous blogs but I would like to hear more from our friends out there with the practices they are using currently to foster better writing skills amongst their deaf and hard of hearing students. Please post your comments below. Let's see what we can come up with as some innovative and creative ways to help out the population we love to serve.

Related previous blog posts:


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The many facets of sign language

Learning Tips   |  Thursday, June 6, 2013

By John Miller

Sign language is not a universal language.

Unfortunately sign language is NOT universal throughout the world. There is American Sign Language, British Sign Language, Spanish Sign Language, Japanese Sign Language, Ausian (Australian Sign Language) and many more. In fact, there are even multiple sign languages used in the United States (American Sign Language, Signed Exact English, regional dialects, etc.). Although one universal sign language would probably make things easier, just like with spoken language, the world would have a very difficult time trying to come up with whose way of doing it was the best way!

What is the difference between American Sign Language and other sign languages?

Sign language has many different facets to it.

American Sign Language (ASL) is the language created and used by the Deaf in the United States, Canada, parts of Mexico, and some other parts of the world. ASL has a limited amount of signs, but it is the purest language from the Deaf perspective. If you are using strict ASL and interpreting English, you often fingerspell words for which there are no signs. Being its own language, ASL not only has its own vocabulary, but also its own grammar and syntax that differs from English.

Signed Exact English (SEE) and other variations (Manually Coded English, Pidgin, etc…) are also "sign languages" used by some in North America. These languages typically use ASL signs as the base but add a lot more signs to reflect a larger part of the English vocabulary. This is often done using initialization (letter handshapes as you sign) to help clarify a specific word that otherwise might just be fingerspelled or signed with a conceptual similar word in strict ASL.

One example would be the sign for CAR. The ASL sign for CAR is two A hands gesturing like they are holding onto and moving a steering wheel. In ASL, this sign is used for any automobile you control with a steering wheel, including a car, truck, bus, van, etc. The English sign for CAR is two C hands, one on top of the other, moving away from each other. If you wanted to specify what type of car, the hand shape is modified to include the initial of the type of vehicle (c for car, v for van, b for bus, j for jeep, etc.).

Car Example
TIP: Signing Savvy shows multiple variations of signs and also lists the sign type (ASL, English, etc.)

This is where the term "initialized sign" comes from. You clarify the meaning by initializing the sign with the first letter of the intended English word. Therefore, using the English version allows one to specify exactly what is communicated in English. In ASL, you would use the ASL sign for car and if it was important to clarify the type of vehicle, you would follow the sign with a fingerspelling of the vehicle type (JEEP, for example). This is just one example.

Many in Deaf culture prefer to sign using strict ASL, using only pure American Sign Language signs. Some have accepted some English signs. However, many English signs are not accepted by those that practice strict ASL, and if you use them in your everyday signing, it could be frowned upon by the Deaf. It is best to watch how others are signing around you and ask if you are in doubt.

Regional signs and sign variations

There are also regional signs that you will see in different parts of North America. This is similar to the concept of regional accents in spoken languages, such as the southern drawl vs. the New York accent. Another example of regional variations in spoken languages is how in the north carbonated, sugary drinks are called "pop" and in the south, it is called "soda" or even just "coke." These same sort of regional accents and variations happen with signing, as well. Using one sign over another is not wrong... just different.

Signing Savvy signs

Signing Savvy focuses primarily on American Sign Language and signs used in the United States and Canada.

Since Signing Savvy is first and foremost a reference for folks signing or learning to sign in North America, it is important for us to also include other signs that you may encounter beyond just ASL signs. For that reason, we also include some commonly used English signs. However, we try to always list the ASL sign as the first sign variation on any given word.

We have tried to include known variations of signs, along with how to fingerspell each word. As you communicate through sign with others in your region, you will find out soon enough what is the more accepted or used sign in your area.

An example of a word with multiple sign variations is HAPPY. As you can see in the image below, Signing Savvy provides 3 sign variations for the word HAPPY, along with the fingerspelled version.

Example of Sign Variations

You can find many articles about sign language on the Signing Savvy website. This article is a compilation of several of our past articles:



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