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Sign Language Dictionary Online

Learning to Sign Words

By

Updated May 16, 2014

Photo of Gallaudet University student signing

Gallaudet University student signing

Photo: Joshua Roberts / Getty Images

Q: How do I sign this word?

A: The answer may be on the Internet, in a sign language dictionary.

There are several websites, where drawings, pictures, cartoons or video can help you learn the proper signs for a particular word.

Sign Language Dictionary Sites

  • ASL Browser - This site has QuickTime videos of an adult signing words from an alphabetized list developed by the Communication Technology Laboratory at Michigan State University. An updated companion site is at Signing Savvy, with more features.
  • ASLPro - Video dictionary divided into a main dictionary, religious dictionary, conversational phrases and a baby sign dictionary.
  • ASLDeafined - This is a pay site run by two sign language interpreters. In addition to a dictionary, it has a series of video lessons organized by topic.
  • ASL University – This site has groups of words, photos and cartoons.
  • Handspeak - This is a pay site with an alphabetic dictionary that includes homemade signs, such as "browser."
  • ASL Video Dictionary and Inflection Guide (from National Technical Institute for the Deaf) - This is a pay site. QuickTime video dictionary shows signs and also includes examples of how the signs are used in sentences. Just as words in English can have multiple meanings, the same sign can be used differently by having different inflections, and this is demonstrated via the sentence examples. This site also offers signs in category groups. CD version is also available.
  • LessonTutor - This site has grouped words by theme, such as pets. Simple black-and-white sketches are paired with written explanations of how to make the signs.
  • Signing Online - This is a pay site that helps people learn sign language.

Sign Language Word Reference Guides

About.com has a master Sign Language Word Reference Guide, which is an A to Z listing of words for which the signs can be found online. In addition, About.com has several themed mini guides:

Everyday Signs

Holiday Signs

Video and Print Resources to Learn Sign Language

For those who prefer video, sign language videos can be purchased through a variety of deaf and hard-of-hearing product vendors. Free sign language learning videos can also be viewed online by registering with the Described and Captioned Media Program, which lends video materials and streams them online. To find sign language learning materials on the DCMP website, browse topics to "Deafness," then "Sign Language." Among the popular videos available for streaming are the Bravo Family Beginning ASL Video courses.

If you prefer a book, sign language books for children and for adults are available.

Mobile Apps to Learn Sign Language

Using mobile apps, you can have everything you need to learn sign language in the palm of your hand.
  • ASL Dictionary for Android will show video of signs and allow you to run them in slow motion or on a loop for easy learning.
  • Marlee Signs, for for iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, is brought to you from Academy Award Winning Actress, Marlee Matlin. Using this app, you can create sign language e-cards to share on social media.
  • ASL Pro for iPhone, iPad, or Android (also available in a free, Lite version) allows you to look up signs for common words.

Readers Respond: Learning Sign Language

Related Video
Signing with Children

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