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 - VOTE

Blog Articles by: John Miller

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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The Many Faces of the Users of Sign Language

General Interest   |  Sunday, November 25, 2012

By John Miller

About a year and a half ago, I came across a young man having problems in one of my schools.  He was about five years old and like any other five year old boy, he was a bit stubborn.  But, unfortunately, he was also known to be a bit of a “flight risk” from the classroom.  We will call him Alex.

Alex isn’t deaf.  I don’t even think he is hard of hearing.  Alex is a very bright young man….a bright young man with Downs Syndrome.  Because of the Down’s, Alex has a lot of trouble with his expressive communication skills.  He can hear everything anyone is saying to him, and he really enjoys interacting with others he comes across.  He is a very affectionate boy.  But up until a year and a half ago, Alex had no real way to communicate back to others what he wanted to say. He made noises here and there but other than gestures, his full thoughts were not being conveyed well and his frustration with communication was evident.

Thankfully Alex’s teacher had previously worked as a speech therapist in a Deaf and Hard of Hearing classroom and she suggested Alex be placed in a DH/H classroom setting where he would be submersed in sign language and he would have continual access to those who used it. Alex picked up on the concept of signing almost immediately.  His signs, much like baby signs are often approximations of the true ASL sign, but they are definitely understandable.  His command of language shows remarkable purpose and thought.

Today it is AMAZING to see Alex sign with his teachers, interpreters and his peers.  He has a schedule and knows exactly how to use it and the purpose behind it, even making suggestions of ways to add to his schedule so that it is more complex and inclusive to his needs.  He is reading everyday words that are a part of his schedule.  His mother and the staff that work with him are so happy with Alex’s progress.  “He has become a MUCH happier boy now that he can effectively communicate his wants and needs.”  Adds one member of his educational team.  His mother’s comment, “Our home life is night and day different and the frustrations, although still there at times, are so much less than what they were before Alex had a voice through sign language.” This comment brought a tear to my eye and a lump in my throat.

These are the people we created Signing Savvy for, the people who need a voice and those who work with them. We know there are others out there like Alex who may not be Deaf or Hard of Hearing but are still walking the earth “without a voice”.  If you know anyone who fits into this category, please don’t hesitate to suggest the introduction of sign language to them.  You may dramatically change their life forever!

Alex’s face is distinctly different than your typical Deaf or Hard of Hearing child, yet one thing is very much the same…..the smile when he is communicating.

 

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