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 - TROUBLE

Blog Articles by: Jillian Winn

Signing Savvy Featured as 1 of 15 Pure Michigan Businesses

Signing Savvy Featured as 1 of 15 Pure Michigan Businesses

Site News   |  Thursday, May 5, 2016

By Jillian Winn

You may not know this, but Signing Savvy is based in Michigan. That does not mean the signs on Signing Savvy are regional to Michigan or that only people from Michigan work for Signing Savvy, just that the company itself was founded and exists physically in Michigan. Of course, we are an online business so we connect with you wherever you are. So far, over 10 million people have used Signing Savvy - the majority of people who use Signing Savvy are from the U.S. and Canada (where ASL is most used), but people from over 200 countries have used Signing Savvy. It is all of you that keep us passionate and working hard to continue to improve Signing Savvy.

We are excited to announce Signing Savvy was chosen as 1 of 15 businesses in the state of Michigan to be featured in a webisode through the PBS program, START UP. We are proud to share our story with you - watch the Pure Michigan / Michigan Economic Development Corporation video on Signing Savvy:

NOTE: Captions are available for this video, you just have to turn them on if your computer’s settings do not already have them on by default (rollover the video and click on the "CC" in the playback bar).

From the start, our mission has been to provide the most comprehensive online sign language resource for parents, educators, interpreters, students, or anyone interested in American Sign Language (ASL). We say "comprehensive" because Signing Savvy includes ASL signs, regional signs, and English signs - each sign is clearly labeled with what type of sign it is and you can see multiple sign variations for words, when available. We have an Advisory Board made up of experts around the country that give us feedback and advise us. We continue to shoot and reshoot signs and add features to the Signing Savvy website because we are passionate about being a high-quality, comprehensive resource that helps people.

We're excited to be working on some cool new updates and features (including one that was mentioned in the video)... stay tuned for the release in the coming months!


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Guide to Using Sign Language With Your Hearing Baby: 0 to 6 Months

Guide to Using Sign Language With Your Hearing Baby: 0 to 6 Months

Learning Tips   |  Tuesday, April 26, 2016

By Jillian Winn

It’s easy to start signing with your baby and it’s amazing to be able to communicate with them through sign before they are able to talk. To get started, simply use signs when communicating with your child. There isn’t a "right" way or specific order to learning or teaching signs, just start by picking signs that make the most sense in the context of your baby’s life. There is no limit to how many signs you should introduce at a time, so sign as much as you are comfortable with. In particular, fluent signers and parents with deaf children should sign as much as possible.

This is just one example of how you could introduce signs to a baby that is 0 to 6 months old and comes from the prospective of hearing parents with hearing children.

Who lives in the household and who do they interact with the most?

When we had our first son, our household included my husband and I and our new son, so we signed MOM and DAD to him. Now we have a new baby boy, so we also sign BABY and BROTHER.

If you have others that interact with your baby on a regular basis, you can also sign their names, such as GRANDPA, GRANDMA, AUNT, UNCLE, etc. Our family doesn’t live in the same city as us, so we mostly stuck to signing just MOM and DAD. We would sign in context to when we were talking about that person or when they were in the room. For example, "DAD is on his way home." "Look, DAD is home!"

When we would call family, we would use the sign then as well. For example, we would say, "We’re going to call GRANDPA and GRANDMA now," and sign GRANDPA and GRANDMA. We would sign GRANDPA and GRANDMA again when we were on the phone with them. We would often do video calls (FaceTime or Skype) and point to them and say and sign, "That’s GRANDPA. That’s GRANDMA."

Don’t forget about your pets, they’re a part of your household too! We have a cat, so we would sign CAT when he came in the room with us. 

Think about anyone that your baby interacts with on a regular or daily basis. Who watches them during the day? A parent? A family member? A BABYSITTER?

What activities do they do the most?

Think about what your baby does the most throughout the day – these are the things that are most common to your baby’s world and the best signs to start with.

Newborns do very little – mostly they eat/drink milk, sleep, and go to the bathroom.

The most common sign we would use is MILK.  Every time our son would have a feeding or bottle we would sign MILK. We would say, "Are you hungry, do you want some MILK?" While feeding him, we would say and sign, "Here’s your MILK."

We would also sign SLEEP. "Are you ready to go to SLEEP?" "Have a good night SLEEP." "SLEEP tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite." "How did you SLEEP?"

Newborns also go to the bathroom… a lot! When we would change our son’s diaper, we would sign POTTY / BATHROOM. You could sign DIAPER, but I found signing DIAPER to be a little impractical because it is signed at the waist and either I was holding him or he was on the changing table, my waist would typically be below my son’s eye level and I wanted him to be able to see when I signed, so using the sign POTTY just worked better for us.

We would sign BATH – "Are you ready for your BATH?" "Time for your BATH!" "You’re taking a BATH" "Isn’t it fun to take a BATH?"

As the baby grows and does more things during the day, you can incorporate more signs into your daily usage, like the sign PLAY

Introduce new signs contextually, when something is happening or about to happen. For example, if you are taking your baby to daycare, start signing SCHOOL the week before daycare starts (lots of people call daycare "school," but use whatever terminology you prefer to call it). Say, "Next week you’re going to SCHOOL." "Today you’re going to SCHOOL." "This is your SCHOOL."

Fingerspelling and the Alphabet

Fingerspelling is an important part of American Sign Language. Fingerspelling is signing the individual letters of the alphabet to spell out words. If you’re not sure what the sign is for an individual English word, you should think about the meaning of the word because that may help you think of a sign has that same meaning, however, there are many English words that do not have an ASL sign and should be fingerspelled. Names are often fingerspelled, such as the name of a company or of a person that does not have a sign name.

There are a number of ways you can introduce the alphabet and fingerspelling to your child.

  • Sign the Alphabet song
  • Read the book Chika Chika Boom Boom and sign the letters as they are mentioned throughout the book
  • Sign names – say, "Your name is ________" and fingerspell their name. You can also say, "Your name is spelled _______." You can tell them other people’s names and spell them, like siblings’ names, etc. Don't forget about your pet's names too!

While spelling is likely beyond the cognitive abilities of this age range, it never hurts to start to lay the foundation earlier and I like the excuse to practice my fingerspelling! Children do recognize the shapes that you are making and will learn what a name looks like over time and will eventually realize the sign is made up of individual letters. It’s not expected, or is it the point, that they understand individual letters at this young age, but what’s important is that introducing fingerspelling continues to enhance communication and language skills.

Again, remember these are just suggestions. There isn’t a "right" way or specific order to learning or teaching signs, just start by picking signs that make the most sense in the context of your baby’s life. And keep doing it!

More Resources to Help You Get Started

Signing Savvy Wordlist:

Baby Signs - 0 to 6 months old Wordlist

Printable Poster:

Alphabet Letters in American Sign Language (ASL)

Signing Savvy Member Feature: Download this image / flyer as a printable PDF page.


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When and How to Start Using Sign Language With Your Hearing Baby

When and How to Start Using Sign Language With Your Hearing Baby

Learning Tips   |  Thursday, February 4, 2016

By Jillian Winn

When to start signing with your hearing baby?

Experts recommend to start talking to your child at birth – even newborns benefit from hearing speech and talking to your child is an important part of how they learn language and to speak. You can talk to them, describe what you are doing as you’re doing it, describe what’s going on around you, tell stories, sing songs, and read books.

Because we would talk to our son when he was born, it just seemed natural to also start signing right away as well.  Plus, research has shown signing activates the area of the brain that makes learning a new word easier,1 2 so why not! It’s never too early (or late) to start signing with children. Babies as young as 4 months old can start using signs (signing them) if they have been introduced to the signs for at least a month.3 The wait for the first sign is usually the longest, but often there will be an increase of signs used.4 Don’t be discouraged if your child is older, it is never too late to start learning sign language and there are benefits to learning sign language at any age.

How many signs should we start with?

There isn’t an ideal number of signs to start with.  Many children grow up in bilingual households and are able to learn multiple languages.  How many signs you start using with your baby really depends on what works for you and your family.

  • If you are a fluent or native signer, use sign language all of the time.
  • If you are not a fluent signer, but have a deaf infant, try to learn ASL yourself and use it as much as you can.
  • If you are excited about learning sign language, learn as much as you can and incorporate as much as you can into your daily language.
  • If you’re new to sign language and want to start signing with your hearing baby, the key is to do what you’re comfortable with and don’t get overwhelmed.  Start with a few signs and go from there.  Add more signs as it makes sense to do so, just keep with it!  Being able to communicate with your baby using sign before they can talk is rewarding for both you and your child.

We are hearing parents of hearing children. When we started signing with our first son, we wouldn’t sign everything we said, just the words that were most common to his world. For example, when saying, “Do you want milk?” We would just sign MILK (with the appropriate facial expression for asking a question).  Eventually we would add more signs, such as MILK + WANT.

Repetition is also an important part to learning new things, so we tried to be consistent in the signs that we used and picked signs that would occur naturally during a typical day. Now, with our second son, in addition to signing signs, I like to fingerspell words to him, like his name, his brother’s name, etc. (I like to have the excuse to practice my fingerspelling!). The “right” way to introduce signs to your baby is whatever works for you and your family, just keep at it and keep adding more signs!

What signs should we start with?

There has been an increasing trend for hearing parents to teach their hearing babies sign language, because of that, there are a number of baby signing resources available and varying opinions on how to do it and how to get started.

The most common recommendations of signs to start with are:

But I wouldn’t recommend starting with the most “common” baby signs or sticking to any get-started list. After all, you’re not creating lesson plans and teaching class, you’re just living life and incorporating signing into your everyday activities. The best strategy is to pick signs that make the most sense in the context of your baby’s life.  For example, if your baby doesn’t use a PACIFIER or have a TEDDY BEAR, then there is no reason to have those included in the signs you start with.

You will also want to think about timing – when you start signing with your baby and what they do on a regular basis should have a big influence on the signs you start with.  For example, if you start signing right away with your baby, the first signs you choose may be MILK, SLEEP, and POTTY because all they do is eat, sleep and go to the bathroom.  You wouldn’t want COOKIE to be one of the first signs at that age because you don’t give a newborn a cookie and it wouldn’t be a regular part of their world yet.

Read our other articles on suggestions of what to sign at different baby ages.  These include examples of what I signed with my son and are meant to be a rough guide, but make sure that you only use suggestions as a guide and pick signs that make the most sense in the context of your baby’s world.

You can easily use Signing Savvy to create your own custom word list of signs for each stage or age of your baby’s life. Sharing the word lists you have created is a great way to get other people, like grandparents and babysitters, in the loop on what signs your baby is learning or knows.


  1. Kelly, S., McDevitt, T., and Esch, M. (2009). Brief training with co-speech gesture lends a hand to word learning in a foreign language. Language and Cognitive Processes, 24(2), 313-334.
  2. Xu, J., Gannon, P., Emmorey, K., Smith, J., & Braun, A. (2009). Symbolic gestures and spoken language are processed by a common neural system. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(49), 20664-20669.
  3. Thorne, B. (2011, August 20). More day care centers, parents using sign language to communicate with babies. MLive. Retrieved 10/29/2014 from
  4. Berg, L. (2012). The Baby Signing Bible. New York: Penguin Group.


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America’s Next Top Model Winner “Just Happens To Be Deaf”

Deaf Culture   |  Tuesday, December 8, 2015

By Jillian Winn

There are multiple reasons why 26-year-old Nyle DiMarco’s crown as the winner of American’s Next Top Model (ANTM) is significant (besides his good looks!) - he is the last winner of ANTM because this was the last season, he is only the second male winner out of 22 cycles, and he is Deaf.

Initially Nyle thought being Deaf would be an advantage in the modeling competition because American Sign Language (ASL) uses movement and facial expressions to convey meaning, which could help him to naturally be more expressive with his body when modeling. However, Nyle called the competition “tough fun” and said it took resilience to make it through the season and succeed. He said he felt isolated, experienced “language deprivation” during his two months competing on ANTM, and that the biggest challenge was not being able to use ASL, his native language. It was hard for him to communicate with the other models in the house and to keep up on what was going on. He said fellow model Lacey was almost the only person in the house that learned ASL (there were 14 contestants).

He especially felt at a disadvantage during a night shoot when they were camping. The shoot was in the woods in the complete dark and while the other models could hear cues, Nyle was unable to hear or see cues. Although it was a tough challenge for him, he survived elimination and went on to win the ANTM title.

Nyles is proud his ANTM journey is proof deaf people can do anything. One of his deaf friends was upset at the beginning of an episode where the contestants had to make a music video, “What the hell! That's not fair. The show is setting Nyle as a deaf contestant to fail!” But as the episode played out, he corrected himself, “Whoa! Nyle killed the music video! He proved them wrong!" Nyle’s reaction was: “Yeah! Deaf people can sing!”

Nyle hopes his exposure on ANTM will educate people on deafness, “Being deaf is not a disability, but a culture.” He explained that deaf people don’t need to be fixed. “We do have a culture. We have a beautiful language. We are achieving so much and society keeps missing these achievements and keeps thinking we still need to be fixed. This needs to stop and they need to shift their energy to something else.” He hopes the world will see his ANTM win and take notice - “deaf people are talented and capable of anything.”

As Tyra Banks said at the end of the show, “Nyle won America's Next Top Model and he just happens to be deaf.”



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Short Film from CNN Highlights a Deaf All-American Family

Deaf Culture   |  Monday, November 23, 2015

By Jillian Winn

With Thanksgiving this week, this short film from CNN does a nice job of highlighting what many of us are most thankful for - family. The short film, called “All-American Family” shares the story of the Pedersen family, a deaf family with deaf parents, two deaf sons, and one hearing son. It gives a glimpse into Deaf culture and what living in a Deaf family and Deaf community is like. If you’re a football fan, you will also like seeing the boys’ passion for football. If you have 15 minutes, watch this short film.

Watch the short film All-American Family on CNN

Link to video: Watch the video on CNN's website.


Unfortunately, the film does not currently include captions. We’ve typed up a transcript for you below:

Captions for CNN’s short film “All-American Family”

0:12 - 0:22 [Cheering]

0:27 - 0:56 Singing: And the rockets red glare,
the bombs bursting in air,
gave proof through the night
that our flag was still there
oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave

1:06 [Cheering]

1:08 That’s a tails and that’s a heads. What’s your call?
The call is tails.
Ok. It is a tails.
You won the toss.
You want to differ.
So they want the ball?
They want the ball.
Ok, they want the ball.

1:24 [Cheering]

4:36 I don’t think I’ve ever wished that they could hear.
I think more, I’d wish that I could be deaf.
It’s like I feel like the odd one out.
I just didn’t get why I wasn’t like them.
It’s all they’ve ever known,
and they’re such like a community here.
And they like, they have a lot of pride.


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