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

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Blog Articles by: John Miller

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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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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Partnership with WonderGrove Kids on Animated Lessons supported by American Sign Language

General Interest   |  Friday, April 5, 2013

By John Miller

Raising a young child in this day and age of fast paced life is difficult. It is hard to keep up with the excitement of animated video games and television shows, which often times are not displaying the behavior or teaching the lessons that we want our young children to learn and emulate. This is why we at Signing Savvy are very proud to have a partnership with an animation company, called WonderGrove Kids, that’s primary focus is to take the wonder and fascination of animation, and use it in a very positive way to teach children the basic fundamental building blocks of life.

WonderGrove Kids Sunset
WonderGrove Kids takes the wonder and fascination of animation and uses lovable characters
to teach children lessons for their everyday life to help them reach their full potential.

WonderGrove Kids have created an amazingly sweet and fun group of characters to help children of all walks of life have the opportunities to learn through animation. They have taken simple daily lessons and made them into great teachable videos, very colorful and fun to watch, yet short enough in length that they keep children’s attention. They are specifically designed to fit well with an Early Childhood Curriculum and perfect for daily use in the home or classroom. Children will ask to watch them over and over.

WonderGrove Animation
From "Always Buckle Your Seatbelt" to "Respect Others on the Playground" and "How to Order a Balanced Meal," the WonderGrove Kids series provides parents and teachers with a well-rounded selection of animated learning episodes to help children prepare for the daily challenges of life both inside and outside of school.

Working with Signing Savvy, WonderGrove Kids has created a sign language version of their animations. In the sign language version, not only are the animations closed captioned, but the key concepts presented throughout the animations are reenforced with sign language videos. The sign language version of the animations are great for children (and adults) that want to pickup and practice sign language vocabulary, including young hard of hearing and deaf children and hearing children that may have been introduced to baby sign language.  Children with communicative delays can also benefit from the animations.  Learning and using sign language has been shown to help with understanding vocabulary and context and improve overall communication. We're excited to bring you sign language through these adorable animated lessons.

Check WonderGrove Kids out! They will be a very welcome addition to any child's learning experience.
 
 

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Teaching Young Children to Sign

Teaching Tips   |  Monday, February 25, 2013

By John Miller

I have had several questions about how to teach young children to sign recently, so I wanted to repost an article I wrote back in 2009 (with a few modifications), which answers many of the questions.

Research has shown that a child's muscles in the hands and fingers develop at a faster rate than those in the mouth and jaw. This shows us that a child is better equipped at a young age to sign before they can speak. And children certainly can understand language long before they can speak. Because of this many people are choosing to teach their infants to use sign language as an early form of communication, oftern refered to as "baby signing". It has been known to cut down on the amount of frustration on the part of an infant trying to communicate with their parents/caregivers.

Many people's questions then are: "How do we teach a young child to sign (deaf or hearing) in a way that is fun and productive?"

My answer: Through play! I had the pleasure of watching a young, 3-year-old, deaf child play yesterday while I met with her teacher and parents during a yearly meeting for the child's education. I watched this cute little preschooler interacting rather naturally with the toys in the dramatic play area (toy kitchen, doctor kit, etc…). She was using the play microwave and placing the plastic food on a plate and "warming it up" for us. Using one hand to punch the keys on the keypad as she counted off the numbers with the other. Then she took the spaghetti out of the microwave telling us to be CAREFUL and to wait because it was HOT. The teacher prompted the child to tell us what the food was that was on the plate, to which the child answered SPAGHETTI rather matter-a-factly!

The child went to play for a good 30 minutes giving us each SHOTS from her doctor kit and telling us not to CRY, etc…. The language used and expressed by this child was amazing and it was all done through play!

Signing Savvy can help with this educational/play experience by using the printing options to create word cards for you to use at home during your play with your child. By having the food signs printed on cards that can be exchanged when you "order your food" and having the child match up the sign to the food, a child will become familiar with the signs for the toys they interact with daily. Create a menu that not only has the food signs on it but some common phrases like, "Can I take your order?" or "Thank you, please come again".

Another playful activity is to play "sign and seek", where you first introduce a few objects and the sign for the objects to your child. Then you scatter the objects around the room.  After which, you show the sign for an object and ask your child to bring it to you.  If you are learning sign language yourself, the Signing Savvy Member App on a mobile device, such as an iPad, is a great way to quickly look up sign videos while playing this game. You could even make a word list of all the objects in your room prior to playing, so you have quick access while you play.

Have fun with it….you'll be amazed how quickly your child (and you) will be using sign throughout your playful day!

 

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