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 - MOTIVATIONAL

Blog Articles by: John Miller

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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Happy Valentine's Day!

Learning Tips   |  Thursday, February 14, 2013

By John Miller

We hope you have a great Valentine's Day! This is a reposting of our blog post from last Valentine's day. It does a great job of covering all the different ways to show LOVE... in sign language that is!

Tell your Valentine I Love You in American Sign Language (ASL)

Many people know and use the sign for I LOVE YOU. This sign is used universal throughout the country and the world. We see it all over television, at sporting events and during "shout outs" to our mothers. The sign is actually the combination of the fingerspelled letters I, L and Y.

The ASL signs for I L and L are combined to sign I Love You.

I have had people ask why the sign looks similar to the one that some people hold up at rock concerts, where the thumb is held down and the pointer finger and the little finger are held up. It is NOT the same. Remember, the thumb of the Y hand has to be present in order for you to be signing the I LOVE YOU sign.

Another sign that gets confused with the I LOVE YOU sign is the Hawaiian "shaka" sign meaning aloha, hang loose, or right on. Interestingly, this is also the ASL sign for YELLOW. Again, this is a different sign, as it leaves out the pointer finger. It is basically just shaking the Y hand.

Signs that do not mean I Love You.

The actual sign for LOVE is both arms folded across the chest. That is to show love or have love for another person or animal, etc.

Love in American Sign Language

Another sign for LOVE that you will see on the site is the kissing of the back of the S hand, then pulling it away from the mouth. This is a sign that is generally used to show a passion for something, like a certain type of food or a type of music.

Love in American Sign Language

Some people have asked why we don’t list the I LOVE YOU sign under the sign for LOVE on our site. It is because they are different signs and we don’t want new signers to confuse the single I LOVE YOU handshape with the general meanings and uses of the word LOVE. We don’t want you to confuse the signs and use the I LOVE YOU sign in a place where you really mean to just say LOVE.

An example of this would be this sentence: My mother loves to travel. You wouldn’t want to say: MOTHER + MINE + I LOVE YOU + TRAVEL (It just doesn’t make sense.) You need to use the sign LOVE there.

Another example sentence: I love to eat deep dish pizza! You wouldn’t want to say: PIZZA + THICK + I LOVE YOU + EAT. You need to use the kissing the back of the hand version of LOVE in this instance.

I hope that clears up some of your LOVE issues! Spread the LOVE and Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at Signing Savvy!

 

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The Use of an Assistance Dog for people who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing

General Interest   |  Thursday, January 31, 2013

By John Miller

Dog ImageMany people have heard of individuals using dogs to assist them with their visual difficulties, but the use of dogs for people who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing is less understood by the general public. Hearing dogs for the deaf alert their owners to sounds, both inside and outside of the home. Some deaf people also choose to get hearing dogs for safety reasons.

The general public's lack of understanding about dogs for the deaf has been known to cause a problem for some hearing dog owners.  Some restaurants or stores where the owners are not aware of the current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) laws, have either told deaf owners to leave their dog outside, or refused them service. Some have even gone as far as saying, "You clearly aren’t blind! Why do you need a dog?"

These dogs are assistance dogs that have been very well trained and are not just your average pet with a vest on them.  It is the owner’s responsibility to keep them well groomed and to monitor their behavior, but because of the extensive screening and training process these dogs go through, disruptive behavior is rarely a problem. These dogs are trained to alert their owners of different sounds such as a siren, fire alarm, crying baby, telephone, or car horn. It is through the use of these dogs that many deaf people say they become more independent and interactive with their surroundings. The dogs are trained to learn obedience, correct response to sounds, and how to respond to voice and hand signals.

There are resources out there to educate yourself about assistance dogs of all types and the laws that apply to them. Assistance / service dogs have also been known to work with individuals dealing with mobility assistance, seizure alert, medical alert, autism and psychiatric issues.

Find out more:

Related Books:

Sound Friendships: The Story of Willa and Her Hearing Dog
By Elizabeth Yates

The story of Willa Macy, who lost her hearing when she was 14, and Honey, a golden retriever, who helped her to discover a new world of independence and security. It is also a story about Hearing Dogs - their background, training, special abilities, and the unique relationship they develop with their owners.

Luke and his hearing-ear dog, Herald
By Andrea Zoll and Arlene Garcia

A book for children about a deaf 9-year-old boy Luke and his hearing dog.

 

Lend Me an Ear: The Temperament, Selection and Training of the Hearing Ear Dog
By Martha Hoffman

Written by a hearing dog trainer, the book includes tips, trainer's secrets, and why hearing dogs are the fastest-growing facet of the assistance dog industry.

 

 

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About Signing Savvy Video

Site News   |  Sunday, January 13, 2013

By John Miller

This video gives a brief overview of the Signing Savvy service and the inspiration behind it by one of the Signing Savvy founders, John Miller.  In addition to his work on Signing Savvy, John has been a teacher, educator, and administrator at the K-12 and University level.  His focus throughout his career has been on Deaf Education and working with Deaf and Hard of Hearing children and their parents.

Transcript of Video

Over 90% of deaf and hard of hearing children are born into hearing families. So that statistic alone is shocking for a lot of people to hear. But what that means is that over 90% of the children are coming home with a family that sign language is not their primary language.

People often ask me how it was that I got my start in sign language and where that interest came from. When I was a teenager, 12 or 13, and babysat for three little girls that lived across the street from me. And they were very close together in age, one, two, and three. The mother picked up pretty quickly that the middle child, the one that was two at the time when I started with her, wasn't responding and wasn't picking up the language that her sisters were. So after they did some testing they found out that she was in fact severe to profoundly deaf. And me as a twelve year old boy didn't really know how to help other than I wanted to.
 
So one thing that I could do is go to my local library and look for a sign language book. And I did that and learned the whole book really quickly and I took it back and tried to work with the little girl and work with the mom and get them to understand. And it was just a really neat experience for me to see that little girl for the first time in her life pick up on things and realize that there was a word for things and a way to ask for things and a way to communicate. So I really quickly learned that this was something that I really wanted to do with my life at a pretty young age.
 
The beauty of Signing Savvy to me is that it started out as this one vision (an online Sign Language Dictionary) but with everyone else who has jumped on board with it we have turned it into something that was beyond what any of us ever thought it could be.
 
It is so much more than just a book that you just open and look at a sign and go, "I think it is like this." You can actually click on that picture and you can see it come to life. It is so much more comprehensive and so much more inclusive than what a book would be.
 
I wanted something that could be a communication tool between school and home. A teacher can take the printing feature option and they can, after creating a word list of, let's say they are talking about vegetables in the classroom that week, they can create word lists of all the different vegetables and actually print those signs off onto cards that are sent home with the student. The children can sit down at the computer actually and be able to go through quizzes and (digital) flash cards and things like that they can do that study vegetables and then be able to go home and access that same teacher's word list.
 
We know that language cannot begin and end in the classroom. It has to continue on with home too. It is the parent's responsibility to do that in the home setting. It is the teacher's responsibility to do that at school. And it is everyone's responsibility to make that all mesh together enable to give our children the best opportunities possible.
 
I knew that there were other people out there that used sign language that were not necessarily deaf or hard of hearing but I did not realize to what magnitude it was. And I did not realize the outpouring of "thank you"s that we would get from people out there who stumbled upon our site for some reason or another that are so thankful because we have given them a voice - the people who have children with down syndrom, the people that have children with cognitive impairments, and, you know, the adults, I have a really touching letter from a young man who is in Afghanistan and lost his hearing from an accident there. And he said, "I did not have a voice, and you gave me back a voice."
 
We have the opportunity to make changes, to give children, adults, anybody who wants to a voice, a way to communicate that they may not have done before and it is exciting. It is exciting. And that is my passion. That's what I wanted to do (with Signing Savvy). It is so much more and so much deeper that I even thought was possible, but it is extremely rewarding.
 

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Thinking BROAD as you learn sign

Learning Tips   |  Thursday, December 27, 2012

By John Miller

Recently I visited with a group of parents of young deaf children who were sharing their frustrations and struggles with learning sign. They were asking for tips to improve their skills as their families learn the language of their young deaf children.  Their question is one that I hear often, and I know I have addressed it in previous blogs, but because I hear it so much, I thought it might be good to discuss it again. I will also point out a feature from our site that might help bring some clarity to the issue.

 
The parent's confusion was with the idea of how one sign can mean one of many English words AND how to know which English word to voice when the sign that they use could have multiple English translations.
 
Let's use the word FINISH for an example.  If you pull up this word on Signing Savvy, in the "This sign is also used to say" (blue) box near the bottom of the page, you will see that this sign can also be used for ALREADY, COMPLETE, DONE, and ALL DONE.  
 
This concept becomes difficult for new learners of the language to comprehend because they are used to all of these words being said differently and spelled differently in the English language.  Remember, sign language is a visual language and many times if the concept that is being signed is conceptually correct, you don't need to worry if the word you are going to say is exactly the right English word, as long as the meaning of the concept is conveyed.  
 
To further emphasize this point, if you sign FINISH after the sign HAVE, as in HAVE FINISH, you are changing HAVE into the past tense form of that word, which is HAD. This also works with DO (DO FINISH = DID) or pretty much any verb that you want to make into a past tense.
 
So if you revisit our example from above:
 
If the child were to sign:  BOOK READ FINISH, you could voice, "I already read that book" or "I finished reading the book" or " I am done with my reading."  Hearing people get all worked up over which one is right but to a deaf person, they are probably going to say that the concept is clear - the reading of the book is finished. The exact English words aren't important as long as the concept is understood.
 
So think broad, focus on the concepts and the big picture, don't get too wrapped up in English word-by-word breakdown, after all ASL is not English.....oh and breath!
 

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