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 - DEAF SCHOOL

Blog Articles by: John Miller

Still time to tap into that summer creativity!

Teaching Tips   |  Tuesday, July 26, 2011

By John Miller

Teachers, I know you are all enjoying your summers and don't really want to think about "Back to School" just yet, but I thought I would take the time, over the next few blog posts, to highlight some of the cool things you can do with the Signing Savvy features to add a little creativity to your classroom.

 

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There is Not a Sign for Every English Word

Learning Tips   |  Tuesday, April 19, 2011

By John Miller

Question: I am looking for the sign for word (insert word) and cannot find it.

Answer: There is not a sign for every word in the English dictionary. However, there is usually a sign for most concepts expressed in English. Conceptually correctness is the key.

If you are trying to find a sign on Signing Savvy, first think about the meaning behind what you want to say. If you search for a word and either no sign comes up or the sign that comes up seems to have a different meaning than what you want to say, think of a different word that conveys the meaning of what you want to say and search for that word.

Lets look at an example from Signing Savvy:

I want to look up the word PROTECTION from the following sentence: I need to put on some more sun protection before going on the boat.

When I search for PROTECTION, I do not find a sign. Therefore, I simplify the word and search for PROTECT. Simplifying the word is a good searching strategy on Signing Savvy, such as removing the -ion, -ing, or s (plural form) of the word.

However, in this case the sign for PROTECT may not really convey the conceptual meaning of sun protection. That sign could be used but what I'm really trying to say in my sentence is more like the sign for FILTER or SCREEN.

Now while looking this up I also thought of the work block, as in sun block. When I looked up BLOCK, I found two signs, one for the meaning to block something or prevent it from entering, and one like a building block.

The sun protection I was thinking about was more of a filter than a block, since I still wanted to get a tan, so I would use the sign for FILTER.

As a signer and a sign language interpreter, you constantly have to decide which sign best fits the conceptual meaning of what you are saying. This is one thing that beginner signers really struggle with. It is not always a direct English to ASL sign translation.

 

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Misconception: There is only one sign language

Learning Tips   |  Monday, April 18, 2011

By John Miller

Question: Is sign language universal throughout the world? ...and if not, why don't we just make it that way since it would make the world have at least one language that everyone could understand and use?

Answer: 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 and Signed Exact English). Although one universal sign language would probably make things easier, just like with spoken language, I'm sure the world would have a very difficult time trying to come up with whose way of doing it was the best way so I don't see it happening anytime soon!

Signing Savvy focuses primarily on American Sign Language (ASL). ASL is a complete, unique language developed by deaf people, for deaf people and is used in its purest form by people who are Deaf. Being its own language, it not only has its own vocabulary, but also its own grammar that differs from English. American Sign Language is used through the United States, Canada, and a few other parts of the world.

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.

For more on the difference between ASL and English signs, see our previous blog post on the difference between ASL and English signs.

 

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Addressing Top Signing Misconceptions

Learning Tips   |  Sunday, April 17, 2011

By John Miller

My next few blog posts are going to focus on the "TOP MISCONCEPTIONS" or questions that I seem to get asked about on weekly basis either in person or from users of the site. For those of you that go back and read old blogs these may sound familiar but they still seem to come up, so I thought I would readdress them and maybe word them a little differently to see if we can make them more easily understood.

 

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The mysterious confusion between deafness and blindness

General Interest   |  Wednesday, February 2, 2011

By John Miller

"Oh, so you work with deaf people...so does that mean you know Braille?"

I am sure many of you who have told people you are interested in sign language have heard a question similar to the one above. Although Braille is used by the blind, people often confuse it as a tool for the deaf. As a former teacher of deaf and hard of hearing children, I have witnessed confusion between deafness and blindess several times in my career. I am not sure why people confuse deafness and blindness...and the communication techniques of each, but it happens all the time!

I wonder if it has something to do with the famous story of Helen Keller (see video below).

She was a deafblind woman who used, among other things, sign language to communicate. But it was tactile signing that she used, not American Sign Language.

As a young man I saw the movie, The Miracle Worker (1962), in school. I think everyone in my class learned the sign WATER from watching the story of the young Helen and her teacher, Anne Sullivan, unfold in-front of us.

Because of the combination of deafness and blindness in some individuals, such as Helen Keller, I would like to give you a little background about how people who are deaf AND blind are communicated with.

Anne Sullivan was the first true intervener, although it was not called that in her day. An intervener (or intervenor, in Canada) is defined as a person who provides intervention to an individual who is deaf blind. An intervener mediates between the person who is deafblind and his or her environment to enable him or her to communicate effectively with and receive non-distorted information from the world around them. An intervener acts as the eyes and ears of the person with deafblindness.

The promotional video below from George Brown College, in Toronto, Canada, does a nice job of explaining what an intervener does.

Many people confuse the role of an interpreter and an intervener. An interpreter is a person fluent in sign language that has gone through an interpreter training program and certification process. An interpreters primary role is to mediate communication between the hearing and the deaf.

A person CAN be both an interpreter AND an intervener. In addition to the standard interpreter qualifications, the person would need to have training in the field of intervention with deafblind people.

But, one DOES NOT have to be an interpreter in order to be an intervener. Some people who are considered deafblind may not use sign language but still may need the services of an intervener. Further, some deafblind people may also have additional special needs such as cognitive issues that cause them to not have a large sign language vocabulary so an intervener that works with them may be able to have some knowledge of sign language but not nearly that of a certified interpreter.

For a bit more background on the amazing life of Helen Keller, watch the mini-documentary above.

 

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