This App Makes it Easy For People to Learn Sign Language

Fingerspelling.xyz teaches hand positions in real time.

Sep 12, 2021
This App Makes it Easy For People to Learn Sign Language | Fingerspelling.xyz teaches hand positions in real time.

Today, there are over 300 different sign languages used around the globe. Learning sign language opens the world to hearing impaired people and lets them communicate with their family, friends, schools, as well as jobs. Now, a new app makes it easier to learn American Sign Language (ASL).

Fingerspelling.xyz, an app from Hello Monday – a creative studio – teaches the correct hand positions in real time on web browsers. The app uses people’s webcams to track their hand movements while an algorithm checks their accuracy.

An estimated 1 million people use ASL, according to Newsweek, as their main way to communicate.  ASL replaces auditory stimulus with visual and is important for children’s development of language. But learning ASL is frequently not that easy.

Statistics from Communication Services for the Deaf show that 98 percent of hearing-impaired people do not receive their education in sign language and 72 percent of families do not communicate by signing. Since nine-out-of-ten children who are born without hearing are born to hearing parents, learning sign language skills are vital for these children and families.

The new app is different from other language apps because of the gaming-like technology it uses according to dezeen. “The fingerspelling game is a great way to introduce the basics of ASL in a fun and playful way," Hello Monday’s founding partner Anders Jessen told dezeen.

This new technology offers a more engaging learning experience than the traditionally used methods of learning sign language which include books and videos. It’s important to note that in ASL, fingerspelling is used for names, when there is no sign for a word, or when a person doesn’t know the sign.

“The game leverages advanced hand recognition technology, matched with machine learning, to give you real-time feedback via the webcam for each sign and word you spell correctly,” Jessen said

“It's fun to think about how this highly trained machine-learning model, which researchers have spent countless hours on training, now does the opposite – it now trains us back, and makes us better at fingerspelling.”

The app begins by giving the user a series of words and the hand positions for them. Then the app user tries the word and they are given feedback until they can properly complete the word. While the app will not make someone fluent in ASL, the creators hope that it will encourage people to take a course on ASL and fingerspelling.

The game was created in collaboration with The American Society for Deaf Children, an organization dedicated to bringing families together through sign language, is available at no charge according to Mashable. The organization also offers online courses and a directory of children’s stories that were translated into ASL. Language is a gift that is too important not to share.

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Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.