Sign Language iPhone and Mobile Apps

I was at a Milwaukee Brewers baseball game a few weeks ago, and was doing a little tailgating with a friend (to those unfamiliar, that is grilling out in the parking lot before the game).

At one point, a young man approached us and gestured to a small pamphlet he was holding. It had a message on the front that read, “I am selling this Deaf Education System card to make living. Will you kindly buy one? Pay any price you wish! Thank you.”

Deaf Education System

Deaf Education System inside pamphlet, showing drawings of hand signals and what they mean

These sorts of things definitely tug at my heart strings, so I gave him a $5 (for both me and my friend). He gave me a complicated handshake that I feebly imitated, and went on his way. It looked like the next several people he approached similarly give him donations.

After mentally wishing him well in whatever struggles he was facing, I got to thinking about portable “deaf education systems” like the hand-drawn representations in the pamphlet.

I naturally wondered what sort of mobile applications are out there for this sort of thing. So I did a search in the app store.

I expected to see a handful of results, but was surprised to find several dozen when I typed in “sign language”.

First page of search results in the Apple app store on an iPhone, using the search words - sign language

Like any subject matter, I’m sure some of these apps are good, some are mediocre, and some are just plain bad. I can’t say as I want to check all of them out, but I think I’ll rummage through a few of them and post some thoughts later on.

Are there sign language or deaf-assisting applications that you’ve experienced that are worthwhile? Are you a deaf person who uses his or her iPhone or mobile device to make your life a little easier?

6 thoughts on “Sign Language iPhone and Mobile Apps

  1. Sara

    My sister-in-laws are deaf. Both of them use Apple’s FaceTime for communicating via sign language. It works great…always a nice, clear picture.

    I see what else I can dig up!

  2. Steve Post author

    Thanks for the comment, Sara — I can imagine FaceTime is incredibly useful for sign language.

    Definitely let me know whatever else you find!

  3. Karen Mardahl

    I have
    iSign Lite
    ASL Signs Lite
    ASL Signs Essential
    on my iPhone. I am not deaf, but I want to learn sign. The two lite programs are free. I was so enthused that I bought the Essential. I planned to teach myself sign, and I think the program was OK for that.
    However, I wasn’t disciplined. Also, I live in Denmark and would have more use for Danish Sign. I found one website that is like a dictionary of words. That was too hard to use for teaching myself. It seems, in my experience, that there are more apps and websites for the sign languages related to English. I keep them installed with the idea that I could perhaps use them to communicate with someone or at least get the greetings and other basics memorized.

  4. Steve Post author

    Thanks for the insights, Karen. I could see how using an app could lead to being less disciplined than actually interacting with someone or getting proper, traditional training.

    Even so, I may still give it a try. It might not get me all the way to full understanding, but may be a good start.

    Seems like there is an open market there for people to develop apps for different languages/cultures. Hopefully in the near future that will happen.

  5. Tisha

    I was just checking out ASL ultimate by Zoosware that was suggested on another site. I’m trying to learn myself, to be able to communicate with Deaf members of our church.

  6. Margaret

    I find the best way to learn ASL is to learn from another person.

    My mother is not deaf nor anyone in my family but my learned in collage and interpreted gladly free of charge for our church for a good friend of hers Debbie and her husband Marvin came weekly and Debbie is deaf. so through the years of watching my mother sign so beautifully I asked her to teach me. I started this new passion with another; worship music so for the easy beat and flow I chose songs by my favorite artist Jeremy camp I surrender to you and My Desire and after a few people begging for us to turn around when my mother signed to teach me during worship at our new church my mother even signed at church in 2013 silent night holy night and every one loved it for the fluent movement with the music. It is SO much easier to me and passionate with music and the meaning of the words and praising my lord and Savior JESUS CHRIST

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