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If you’re interested in learning sign language, apps are an excellent way to start. They’re a convenient and affordable alternative to classes. Plus, you can use them anywhere at any time, whether you’re on the bus or making coffee.
Using an app also lets you learn at your own pace, since apps usually offer lessons in “bite-sized” tutorials. Some apps even present lessons in the form of games or quizzes, which can make the experience extra fun.
Below, we’ve gathered the best sign language apps that can help you learn the basics and communicate in signed languages.
The apps on this list were chosen for their quality content, user feedback, and techniques for teaching sign language. We also considered special features that reviewers found to be enjoyable and valuable.
Most of these apps focus on English and American Sign Language (ASL). If an app offers regional signs or other sign languages, we took it into consideration.
Lastly, all of the chosen apps are available for both iOS and Android. They also vary in price to accommodate different budgets.
The ASL App
The ASL App was created by Ink & Salt, a deaf-owned and deaf-run company. It’s a visual-only app that offers more than 2,500 ASL signs and phrases. The app features a slow-motion option, search index, and favorites folder.
One reviewer said, “This makes learning the basics so easy.” Another said that “this is the best app out there.”
The basic features are free to users. Additional offerings, called Sign Bundles, are available for $0.99 each. Each bundle has a theme, such as colors or pop culture. A one-time purchase of $9.99 includes all current and future bundles.
Hands on ASL
If you want to learn how to fingerspell, consider Hands on ASL. The visual-only app uses 3D model hands instead of videos or still images. You can zoom into the hands and rotate them to view them from different angles.
Hands on ASL offers game-style quizzes rather than standard lessons. If you enjoy playing games on your phone, you might enjoy this feature.
One user said the app is a “great tool for anyone who needs to be able to communicate using sign language quickly and effectively.”
The app is free to use with optional in-app purchases. The free version has ads, which some users found “annoying.”
SignSchool was created by a trio of friends, including a deaf person. It offers hundreds of sign topics, multiple choice games, and a dictionary with different dialects. The app, which is visual-only, also has a “Sign of the Day” feature. This makes it easy to learn a new sign every day.
With more than 4,000 signs and 200 subtopics, SignSchool is packed with educational content. However, some users disliked that signs with multiple meanings lacked descriptions explaining the differences.
The app might be ideal for intermediate signers. Reviewers note that SignSchool may be best for people who “already know basic ASL and want to expand [their] vocabulary.”
The app is free to all users. It can also be used on a desktop computer.
ASL Dictionary is a visual-only app with more than 5,000 videos. It offers quizzes, fingerspelling exercises, a favorites list, and a slow-motion option. The app also includes a history of played words so you can keep track of signs you’ve viewed.
What’s more, the app allows you to download videos to practice ASL offline. This can be handy if you don’t have consistent access to internet.
One reviewer said it’s “very user friendly and intuitive.” Another reviewer noted that it’s “easy to search for specific words” in the app.
The app costs $7.99 to use.
Lingvano is run by “an international and diverse team of deaf and hearing people.” The visual-only app has many unique features, including icons to show that you’re learning a new sign. It also lets you use your front camera as a mirror so you can see what you’re signing.
Other features include a searchable dictionary, quizzes, and exercises to practice conversational dialogues. The app offers Austrian Sign Language (OEGS) courses as well.
One reviewer said, “The quizzes are very well put together. You have to spell out answers, recognize hand positioning, and you will move into grammar pretty quickly.” The app also explains facial expressions, according to the reviewer.
The app’s basic subscription is free. A monthly subscription starts at $17.99 a month, but 3-month and 12-month subscriptions are also available.
InterSign ASL is a relatively new visual-only app with more than 90 lessons. It offers a dictionary, glossary, and games. The developers are planning to include sign variants.
According to reviewers, the signs are broken down into steps, “so you don’t have to learn everything at once.” Another user said, “There are a few ads but nothing that impedes the learning.”
However, some reviewers noted that the video quality can be a bit poor. This might make it difficult to properly see the signs.
The app is free to use, but has in-app purchases starting at $4.99.
Pocket Sign can help you learn ASL via interactive “small sized” videos, flash cards, and quiz-like exercises. It also includes lessons for baby sign language and the ASL alphabet.
When the app teaches you a new sign, it provides a few sentences explaining the hand movements. This can help you better understand the correct motions. As one user said, “The way they teach you makes it so easy to remember the movements.”
The free version includes daily lessons. Otherwise, membership costs $5.99 a month or $59.99 a year.
ASL American Sign Language
ASL American Sign Language offers a range of educational content, including commonly used phrases and vocabulary. The app also has nursery rhymes and picture matching games, so it may be useful for learning ASL with children.
The videos have an audio component. If you have hearing and want audio assistance, you might like this feature. However, reviewers have noted that the video quality isn’t always the best. In some clips, the instructor is standing far away, or music is playing in the background.
The app’s basic subscription is free to use. A one-time purchase of $2.99 will give you access to more features.
Sign language apps are an excellent resource for learning basic signing. However, if you’re an advanced signer, an app might not suit your needs.
If you’re new to sign language, don’t hesitate to try multiple apps until you find one that works for you. Other options include YouTube videos by certified instructors. You can also take online courses, such as the ASL Connect program at Gallaudet University.
The best way to master sign language is to practice it with other people. If you’d like to advance your skills, consider attending a class for personalized guidance.