Last Thursday I took my iPad to the ASL Meetup for the newest signers who know little but some very slow finger spelling. The three of them huddled around the iPad looking at ASL 101 by Everyday ASL and then tried out basic signs with each other. I’ve also got ASL Zoo, ASL Pro, ASL Mini Dictionary and Idioms 1&2 on the iPad, but these folks need to learn basics so they can ask and answer simple questions or ask for a repeat of the sign. The more advanced signers just signed away while the neophytes were learning.
I also have ASL Dictionary 4800 signs which would be my fav if I didn’t have to cache each mini-video – and if I haven’t and I don’t have access to an Internet connection then the words not cached don’t run.
One of the new signers emailed me for the URL of the website they were using. Um, sorry, these are apps designed for tablets, iPads, and smart phones. However, there are websites people can visit. One of my friends loves http://lifeprint.com (ASL University) another swears by http://signingsavvy.com, still another by http://ASLPro.com and there are a plethora of ASL tutorials on youtube. I prefer videos to books because books are flat and one dimensional, whereas ASL is a 3D language.
DVDs work on computers. App work on smart phones and tablets such as the iPad. Websites need Internet connectivity and at least one of them doesn’t work well with the iPad. I prefer to the apps or the DVDs.
Classes are probably best, but if access to a class is not possible then websites or apps are the next best thing. And signing with others who are learning the language – and then with members of the Deaf community. You’d be surprised how many of the oral deaf struggle with sign.
Although a lot of people lip read, the reality is that lip-reading isn’t as accurate as learning Signed Exact English (SEE) or American Sign Language (ASL). I’m lucky to get half of the words if I lip read without the ability to get any of the sound from the person speaking. So I fall more and more into the use of ASL.
I continue to feel that we should be teaching ASL as a second language in schools from early on. We’re living long enough that half of our elders are deaf in their later years. And for those with the misfortune to also go blind, ASL is all they’ve got.