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.

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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 in Category: General Interest

Interpreter 4-1-1: Self-Care is the New Normal

Interpreter 4-1-1: Self-Care is the New Normal

General Interest   |  Monday, October 15, 2018

By Lindsey Williams and Brenda Cartwright

This article is part of our "Interpreter 4-1-1" series, which includes advice and tips for interpreters.

"Self-care" is a popular topic in recent years, and the trend isn’t slowing down. One problem noticed by your authors, however, is that there seem to be competing definitions of this idea and it’s causing a breakdown in the discussion about the importance of self-care. Should self-care be understood as indulgence? Eating a piece of chocolate cake because it’s been a rough day and this will help you to feel better? Or should self-care be thought of as goal-setting? Training for a marathon because you’ve always wanted to try it and enjoy testing your limits?

What is Self Care? Indulgence? Goal-Setting?
What is self-care? Is self-care indulgence or goal-setting?

The contradiction is stark, and creating a life you don’t need to escape from takes hard work, sacrifice, and patience. In reality, maybe self-care is just letting yourself be "normal." Doing things like sitting down and paying your bills, enforcing a morning routine, cooking healthy meals, working out, putting some oil into your bath, turning off your phone, or having a game night with friends.

Being normal/self-care is a process that involves self-reflection. Despairing at the skinny total in your wallet and then going for a $80 pedicure to feel better is a temporary fix, but also worsening the problem. Training ourselves to resist the impatience of seeking an immediate fix is hard. None of life’s big challenges have easy solutions; learning a new skill, finding a compatible partner, career advancement, etc. Nobody asks to take the hard road but it is through those challenges and by building inner strength that we are able to move forward. We make sacrifices to become a better version of ourselves; the certified interpreter, the parent, the business owner. Moving toward those goals smartly, proactively, and relentlessly is how each of us achieves self-care.

Work on your skills and communication for a different tomorrow. Set new standards for yourself and actually believe in them. Skepticism in your own goals is not helping you get what you want. Your thought process is everything. Obsessing over temporary set-backs is exhausting and leaves little energy to actually become better. Taking action allows us to focus on movement and increases energy. Start by physically writing down what you want to accomplish; make lists. Learn what each item takes, and expect that it will require hard work and sacrifice to get there. Set specific, measurable goals. Writing a book doesn’t happen in one day. But you can write 20 pages. Training for a marathon doesn’t happen in a week. But you can increase the distance you’ve run. Have goals for the day, for the week, for the month, and write them down on paper. Put the paper someplace you’ll see it.

Set daily, weekly, and monthly goals
Set goals - daily, weekly, and monthly - and write them down.

Celebrate goals realized, and then get back to it. Self-care doesn’t require an audience, either, so don’t worry whether everyone is following along. Self-care is an investment of today’s time and energy so you can profit tomorrow.


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About the Authors

Lindsey WilliamsLindsey Williams is an interpreter, interpreter educator, and Practicum Supervisor for Lansing Community College’s Sign Language Interpreter Program in Lansing, Michigan.

More about Lindsey  |  Articles by Lindsey

Brenda CartwrightBrenda Cartwright is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, well known presenter, and author of several best selling sign language and interpreting textbooks from the RID Press. For the last 30 years Brenda has been the Chair of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan.

More about BC  |  Articles by BC

Interview with Switched at Birth Creator Lizzy Weiss

Interview with Switched at Birth Creator Lizzy Weiss

General Interest   |  Friday, October 16, 2015

By Jillian Winn

We are so excited to interview Lizzy Weiss, the creator of Switched at Birth!

About Switched at Birth

The TV show Switched at Birth is the first mainstream television series to have multiple deaf and hard-of-hearing actors, as well as scenes shot entirely in American Sign Language (ASL). The ninth episode of the second season entitled "Uprising" made television history by becoming the first episode of a national mainstream television series to be told almost entirely in American Sign Language.

Switched at Birth tells the story of two teenage girls who discover they were accidentally switched as newborns in the hospital. Bay Kennish grew up in a wealthy family with two parents and a brother. Meanwhile, Daphne Vasquez, who contracted meningitis and became deaf at an early age, grew up with a single mother in a working-class neighborhood. Things come to a dramatic head when the families discover that the girls were switched at birth.

Interview with Lizzy Weiss, the Creator of Switched at Birth

Lizzy WeissSigning Savvy users love Switched at Birth and have submitted several questions to ask Lizzy Weiss, the creator of Switched at Birth. A big thank you to Lizzy for answering the fan questions and thank you to everyone that submitted questions - Jackie B., Courtney B., Denise B., Katie C., Tracy Anne H., Ray K., Chloe L., Sarah P., Julie S., and Lili Lan V.

What was your motivation for creating the show?

I’m a writer so I’m always looking for great stories and when I heard about two middle-aged women who discovered that they had been switched at birth, I knew that making them teenagers would make a really interesting examination of nature vs. nurture. The decision to make one of the girls deaf came later, so it wasn’t the primary inspiration for the show; it was more of an extra complication to the main hook.

Did you have ties to the Deaf community prior to creating the show?

I took a class in college called Theater of the Deaf in which we had to perform monologues, songs, and poems in sign language. When I decided to make one of the girls different in some way to create more conflict with her birth family, I instantly knew that I wanted her to be deaf. (Take unusual classes in college even if they don’t fulfill requirements! They’ll pay off in ways you can’t anticipate later!)

What sort of background research did you do in creating the show?

I saw documentaries on deaf history and the cochlear implant debate; I read memoirs and lurked on deaf blogs and forums; and most importantly, I visited Marlton School for the Deaf in Los Angeles and interviewed multiple classes of students about their lives.

How was Katie Leclerc selected for the role of Daphne? How did she feel about acting with a deaf accent and is it difficult for her?

We had an open call for the part of Daphne so that we could be more inclusive and provide an opportunity to someone who wasn’t in the system (i.e. not just people with agents). People drove for hours to audition and spoke to me about the script and how much it meant to them to have a deaf protagonist; it was very moving. Katie nailed the audition in every way: in her acting, being fluent in ASL, plus the extra little magic of having the same coloring as Lea Thompson, who we knew we wanted to cast as the part of her biological mother.

But Katie is hard of hearing (from Meniere’s Disease) and I knew that I wanted Daphne to be more deaf than Katie in order to provide more anxiety and conflict with her bio family. We asked her if she would be comfortable coming back and auditioning again with a deaf accent and she said she felt very comfortable since she has been around deaf people her whole life. She worked with her sister (who is deaf) to map out which syllables would be difficult for her; I think by now, 93 episodes in, it’s pretty much second nature.

In the show, Regina stopped signing to Daphne because of an injury. Was there a behind-the-scenes reason she stopped?

Sadly, there was. It was a true heartbreak for all of us that Constance had to stop signing. All of the other actors got to learn gradually because their characters learned slowly over time. But Regina was supposed to be fluent when we met her, so she had to do a crash course in ASL. Everyone’s hands are different and for some reason, the repetitive motion of so much practicing gave her carpal tunnel syndrome (especially after an eight-hour day of shooting a key scene in episode 8, ‘Pandora’s Box,’ in Season 1 in which Regina reveals a huge secret). In any case, her doctors required her to stop signing altogether. Luckily, at the same time, so many of the other characters started signing that it didn’t affect the texture of the show, and the amount of ASL that I wanted.

How long did it take the hearing actors to learn sign language?

We have an ASL master (Jack Jason, who is also Marlee Matlin’s long-time interpreter) who teaches all of the actors their signs for their lines weekly. He is available for tutoring; he makes videos for them; and he is on set for every sign language scene to correct or guide them. Sometimes I consult with him as well when new characters are learning ASL and we talk about what level we want them to be at, or what sign to use in a certain scene, or when they should fingerspell, things like that.

Does anyone use Signing Savvy associated with the show?

I don’t think so but I tell everyone about it! I love the sign of the day. Every morning, my kids (ages 5 and 7) and I check it at breakfast and we learn it together! And I teach my daughter’s kindergarten class a new song every week. This week we are going to do animals and if a kid asks me an animal I don’t know, I’ll just look it up in the dictionary!

What's your favorite sign?

Penguin! Pirate. Love. Octopus. Submarine. Turtle. Rainbow. Friend. Always and forever. So many!

Switched at Birth is actually what inspired me to learn ASL! Is there an interpreter on set at all times for crew members who may not know ASL but need to interact with the Deaf actors? 

Every deaf actor has their own interpreter at all times on set, so when the director needs to block a scene or the assistant director needs them in make-up or I need to give a note, we use the interpreters. I’m trying to use my sign language these days but sometimes we have to be fast so I use a mixture of my signs and the interpreter.

Has the show gotten a lot of positive feedback about its use with Deaf actors and ASL?

Yes! It has been delightful hearing how many people say they were inspired to learn sign language - or even become interpreters - from the show. I love when people tweet that they felt more comfortable talking to a deaf patient or a deaf customer because of the show, that is fantastic.

I want Switched at Birth to last forever! Do you think you will continue to work with Deaf story lines after Switched at Birth concludes?

Absolutely. Sign language is totally part of my life now, both professionally and personally. I’m pushing my family to learn it so we can have a secret (kind of) language!

How to Watch

New episodes of Switched at Birth are on Mondays at 8/7 central on ABC Family. Find out more about Switched at Birth or watch episodes online at ABC Family. Older episodes are also available on Netflix.

Again, a big thank you to Lizzy for answering the questions from Signing Savvy fans!


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Great Sign Language Music Video Performance of Taylor Swift's Shake It Off

Great Sign Language Music Video Performance of Taylor Swift's Shake It Off

General Interest   |  Monday, May 11, 2015

By Jillian Winn

Check out this great sign language music video performance of Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off. The video was a collaboration between the Digital Media, Audio and Cinema Program and the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College (LCC). The production was student driven and took around four class periods to complete.

The performer, Sam, just finished LCC’s Sign Language Interpreter Program this week and plans to take her state certification test soon to become a certified interpreter in Michigan.

Sam originally performed this song at LCC's SYNC event, which is a performance where the cast (LCC Sign Language students) work with the faculty to interpret popular songs using sign language. Doretta Fowler, the Director of SYNC, explained the show is called SYNC because “We synchronize two cultures, two languages, and we do it simultaneously.” After she performed Shake It Up live at SYNC, Sam was selected to turn her performance into a music video. 

Sam had a lot of fun creating the music video. She said, “I was so surprised when I walked into the studio and saw all the cameras and the lights. I felt like I was a movie star!”

And just like Sam's 4-year-old niece (who chose the song), we think you will enjoy this great music video.

SHAKE IT OFF from theDMACprogram on Vimeo.


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Voice Contestant Signs the Team She Wants to Be on

General Interest   |  Tuesday, February 24, 2015

By Jillian Winn

When it was time for The Voice contestant Treeva Gibson to choose which coach’s team she wanted to be on, she responded, "I’m going to sign this, so my parents can see who I pick." Her parents were anxiously waiting backstage with an interpreter and her mom burst into a huge smile when the interpreter told her Treeva said she was going to sign. Her mom switched her focus from the interpreter to the monitor and watched Treeva sign (and voice), "I PICK" and fingerspell "C-H-R-I-S-T-I-N-A."

The 16-year-old from Frederick, Maryland started singing when she was 11. Both of her parents are deaf and Treeva learned to sign before she could speak or sing. Her mom is a teacher at the Maryland School for the Deaf and her dad teaches at the University of Pittsburgh. As a teenager, Teeva discovered she had a mild hearing loss. She can not hear mid-tones, which makes it difficult for her to hear an artist singing on a track, yet she can hear the instrumental part.

Treeva Gibson on The Voice
Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton both turn their chairs for Treeva Gibson during the blind auditions on The Voice. Pharrell Williams and Adam Levine are also pictured. (Photo Credit: Tyler Golden/NBC, "Blind Auditions" Episode 801).

Treeva sang Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” in her blind audition on Season 8, Episode 1 (801) of The Voice, which aired on February 23, 2015 to 13.97 million viewers. Coaches Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton both turned their chairs for her before she reached the chorus. After choosing Christina for her coach, she went on to sing the Florence + The Machine song “Addicted To Love” against Katelyn Read in the Battle Rounds on March 10, 2015 and Christina declared Treeva the winner of the round. She was eliminated from The Voice during the Knockout Rounds on March 30, 2015 after performing “Chasing Pavements” by Adele against Rob Taylor.

You can watch Treeva Gibson’s “Young and Beautiful” blind audition at the Daily Motion website.


  1. Franklin, Mark. (2015, March 1). Meet Treeva Gibson of The Voice Season 8. Idol Chatter Voice News. Retrieved from

  2. Golden, Tyler (2015). "Blind Auditions" Episode 801. In The Voice: NBCUniversal Media. Retrieved from and

  3. NBC (2015, February 23) Blind Auditions (Season 8, Episode 1) [Television series episode]. In The Voice

  4. The Voice Wiki: Treeva Gibson. (n.d.). Fandom. Retrieved from


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Happy Thanksgiving!

General Interest   |  Wednesday, November 26, 2014

By Jillian Winn

We hope that you have a very happy Thanksgiving! 

Did you notice the theme of our Signs of the Day for the past week?  Leading up to Thanksgiving, all of our Signs of the Day have been Thanksgiving related: 

We also have a Thanksgiving Coloring Page from our partners at WonderGrove Learn Animated Lessons with Sign Language that you can print out and color.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Coloring Page


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