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 - SUPPORT

Blog Articles by: Brian Winn

Word Lists, Flash Cards, and Quizzes

Site News   |  Wednesday, July 22, 2009

By Brian Winn

We have had word lists since the launch of Signing Savvy. However, we have made a number of improvements recently that greatly enhances word lists. We are really excited to announce the added functionality that allows you to test your signing skills with our new virtual flash cards and quizzing features within word lists. The word list features are explained below.

What are word lists

Word lists are usually semantically related signs grouped together. For example, there are a number of Signing Savvy created word lists, such as Colors, Animals, and U.S. States. Many of these word lists are available from the "Browse Signs" box in the top right side of the web page.

Creating your own word lists

One of the most compelling member features is the ability to create and organize your own word lists. Members have been creating word lists for many reasons, including:

  • Word lists to organize signs from a lesson they are studying in a sign language course
  • Word lists to organize signs from a chapter they are studying in a sign language book
  • Word lists to organize signs into categories of words, such as medical signs, greetings, and household objects
  • Word lists to hold signs that make up the lyrics for a song
  • Word lists to hold signs that make up a bible verse
  • Word lists to hold signs of their friends and families names (fingerspelled)

So far our members have created over 1000 of their own word lists! As a member, you can create, view, and manage your word lists by clicking on My Word Lists in the "Browse Signs" box.

Shared Word Lists

Members can choose to share their word lists with other members on Signing Savvy. For members creating word lists, this is a great way to share your favorite signs with your fellow students, classmate, friends, or family members. For all members, using Shared Word Lists is another great way to explore and learn signs on Signing Savvy.

Practice with Flash Cards

One of the new word list features is virtual flash cards! This feature allows you to use word lists to practice your signing. You can view the sign, think about what you think the sign is for, and then reveal the answer to see if you are correct. You can also do the opposite. That is, you can view a word or phrase, then make the sign (perhaps using a mirror so you can see yourself sign), then reveal the sign video to see if you are correct. Just like paper flash cards ... but with benefits of video! You need to be a member to use this feature. However, you can preview flash cards on the color word list to see how it works without being a member.

Quiz Yourself

Another new word list feature is the ability to create a quiz from the word list and then test your knowledge by running through a series of multiple choice questions. What better way to practice your signing or to prepare for an upcoming test than to quiz yourself from the comfort of your own computer. You need to be a member to use this feature. However, you can preview quizzing on the color word list to see how it works without being a member.

View All Signs Together

The "View All Signs Together" feature allows you to view all the signs in the word list, back to back, in one video playback. This feature is also quite useful for printing the entire word list at one time using the PRINT signs feature.


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Comment on Dictionary Signs

Site News   |  Friday, July 17, 2009

By Brian Winn

You can now post comments on not only blog posts but also signs in the dictionary. Our hope is that this feature will allow you to better ask questions of and share your knowledge with your fellow Signing Savvy users.


To do read and post comments, you must be a registered guest or a member.


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Keeping Signing Savvy Family Friendly

Site News   |  Thursday, July 9, 2009

By Brian Winn

As of today, we have nearly 6500 words in the Signing Savvy dictionary. We are continuously updating our dictionary of signs. In fact, to date we have added around 100 new signs each month. Our goal is to have the most comprehensive video dictionary of signs on the web.

However, to be a complete dictionary you need to include words and phrases that some may consider mature. We are beginning to include mature words, not only because we want to have a complete dictionary of signs, but also because it is especially important for healthcare workers and patients, social workers, and educators to have access to this vocabulary.

Marking Mature Signs

Terms that may be considered mature are marked as mature in our dictionary. Mature signs are indicated with the graphic below the word. Labeling words and signs as "mature" can be subjective and we do our best to maintain the integrity of the Signing Savvy site and its audience.

Mature Signs for Visitors

If you are a visitor that does not have an account (or you are not logged in) you can search for mature words and the site will indicate that it is in the dictionary but you must be logged in to see the sign. Mature signs do not appear in the browse by letter lists.

Mature Signs for Registered Guests and Members

If you are a registered guest or a member, once you login, you have the option of showing mature signs or not. This can be set as a preference in your account info settings.

When you indicate that you do not want to see mature signs, the mature signs will not show up in the browse by letter list. If you search directly for a mature sign, the site will indicate that it is in the dictionary but you have chosen not to see mature signs.

When you indicate that you do want to see mature signs, the mature signs will show up both in the browse by letter list and when you search directly for them.

You can change your preferences depending on how you are using the site. For example, if you are demoing signs in the classroom, you may choose to not show mature signs. However, you may turn them back on at anytime.


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Enhancements to Printing

Site News   |  Tuesday, March 10, 2009

By Brian Winn

New printing features now available

Since the launch, we have been continually improving the sign printing functionality. Today, I am happy to report we have launched our latest printing features for Signing Savvy members. The printing feature now provides you a great amount of flexibility in what you print and how it prints. This includes the ability to select which images you want to print from each sign, the ability to print multiple signs on a page, and the ability to print signs for special purposes, such as flash cards (even two-sided if you have a printer that supports it) and test sheets, in addition to reference sheets.

To print, you must be a Signing Savvy member and you must be logged in. If you are not yet a member, you can test out many of the printing features on the Sign of the Day.

How it works

When you wish to print one or more signs shown in a video, just click the PRINT button located in the playback controls under the video.

where is the print button'

A sidebar will open up to the right of the video that will walk your through the printing process.

print sidebar

Select Images to Print

The first step is to select the images (frames of video) you would like to print for each sign in the video. Initially, the site will show thumbnail images of one to four preselected frames of video for each sign. You can just go with the defaults or you can modify which images to use.

If you wish to modify which images to use, first make sure you are on the sign you wish to modify. Usually the video shows just one sign. However, if you are viewing a phrase from the Savvy Interpreter or a Word List, the video may include multiple signs. To move through the signs available in the video (if there is more than one), you can either click the forward and backward arrows in sidebar by the sign name or you can simply move the playback head to be located within the desired sign.

move between signs

Once you are viewing the thumbnails for the sign you wish to modify, you can remove an image by first clicking on the thumbnail image to selected it, and then clicking the REMOVE button below the thumbnails.

removing frames

You can add a frame by first moving the playback head to the frame of video you wish to add and then clicking the ADD button. Probably the easiest way to move the playback head to is to use the previous frame and next frame buttons.

add frame

NOTE: You can only have four images per sign, so you may have to remove an image before you can add a new one.

If you make a mistake, you can click the DEFAULTS button to return to the DEFAULT frames for the sign.

You can also click SAVE CHANGES to save the changes you made for the sign so the next time you look at it, it will have the same thumbnails preselected for you.

You can continue this process for each sign in the video (if there is more than one.) Once you are ready to move to the next step, click the NEXT button.

Print Options

The second step is to choose your printing options. One of the options is to decide how and if you want to print a sign description. You can choose ON SAME PAGE to print out a reference sheet where the name of the sign is printing with the sign images. You can choose ON SEPARATE PAGE to print out flash cards or self-test sheets where the sign is printed on one page and the sign description is printed on a separate sheet. Or you can choose DO NOT PRINT to print out just the signs with no information on what the sign is. This can be useful for creating a test/quiz.

print options

One option for printing when you choose ON SEPARATE PAGE is the FRONT-TO-BACK checkbox. If you have a printer capable of two-sided printing, check this checkbox. This will make sure that the sign description will line-up properly on the back of the page with the corresponding images on the front. This is very useful for making flash cards. The other print option is to select the number of signs per page. Previously you could only print one sign per page. Now you have the option of printing 1, 4, 6, or 9 signs on a page! Once you are ready to move to the next step, click the NEXT button.

Setup Your Printer

The last step is to make sure your printer is configured properly. The print sidebar will make recommendations to you on how your printer should be setup for printing based on the print options you selected.

print recommendations

Once you click the PRINT button, you will be presented with your computers standard Print Dialog box. You should select the corresponding options in your computer Print Dialog boxes. For example, if you were following the recommendations shown above, you would select the paper orientation as "Portrait," two-sided printing on (if you had a duplex printer), and set the binding method to "long-edge binding" (once again, if you had a duplex printer). You don't have to follow these recommendations. However, your printed signs will look better if you do.

print dialog settings

Aside: Showing Motion

The best way to see the motion of a sign is to view a sign live or via video, such as on the Signing Savvy web site. As described above, Signing Savvy's print feature allows you to select multiple images from a sign to show the motion of the sign. However, sometimes that is not enough. If you have seen printed signs in books or on cards in the past you probably have noticed that they often include arrows overlaid on top of the image to show motion. Perhaps one day we will enhance printing so you can add arrows on top of the images. For now, you can always write them in with a pen or marker after printing!


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Signing Savvy Launches

Site News   |  Sunday, February 22, 2009

By Brian Winn

A little background

In 2005 we realized that, while there were a few good sign language resources on the web, there really was no site that provided a comprehensive reference for those learning sign language. The closest sites out there were the ASL Browser developed at Michigan State University and Signing Online. I was actually involved in the development of both these sites.

The ASL Browser was developed back in 1996-1997. At the time, the site was quite revolutionary. Digital video on the web was just in its infancy. We took the 2500 digital videos from the Personal Communicator CD-ROM developed by Michigan State University (winner of the Discover Magazine Software Innovation of the Year Award in 1995), organized them into a logical fashion, and placed them on the web. It has been the number one reference for American Sign Language on the web for over 10 years. However, it is now showing its age. The signs on the site are small, postage stamp sized videos (which was all that was possible when the site was created.) Further, the site lacks any search functionality or other interactive features, such as the ability to create word lists and print signs.

Signing Online was developed between 2000 and 2003. It is a wonderful series of online courses that teach American Sign Language. If you are looking to take a course and like the convenience of online instruction, I highly recommend them. Signing Online is primarily a set of courses, though. If you already are taking a course or if you already know some signing, what you really need is a reference tool.

Signing Savvy fills the void!

Signing Savvy contains a dictionary of several thousand high-quality video signs complete with sign description and English example sentences. You can find words by searching and by browsing by letter or a number of precompiled semantic word lists. Any word not in the dictionary can be fingerspelled. Best yet, like the ASL Browser, access to the video dictionary is provided free of charge! Our basic service is supported by ad revenue.

When working on Signing Savvy we realized that some of you require more tools and features to support your sign language learning. Therefore, we created a subscription-based member service. Membership adds the ability to view even larger, higher quality video, view video full-screen, print signs for reference off-line, build your own word lists, translate English phrases to a sequence of signs (based on the word order you type), view memory aids of signs, and more! You can preview some of these features by clicking on the link below the sign of the day.

It took us several years to get the site off the ground, but in January 2009 we launched!

What does the future hold for Signing Savvy?

While we already have several thousand signs covering over 5000 English words, we will be continually adding new signs each month, as well as new word lists. In addition to this blog, look forward to a discussion forum and other social networking features coming soon. We are also working on several new member services, such as the ability to quiz yourself or your friends.

Our goal is to be "Your Sign Language Resource!" Feel free to contact us and let us know your needs.


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