7 Online Resources and Apps to Learn Sign Language

Teach a baby – or yourself – American Sign Language

Blonde woman showing a baby the ASL sign for "more"
Teaching baby the sign for "more".  Steve Debenport/ Getty Images

American Sign Language has been used in preschools and daycare centers across the country for more than a decade to help kids communicate before they’re able to speak. You can do it too! There are a number of helpful online resource and apps to teach you how to sign with your child. Or you can learn sign language to communicate with a new friend or co-worker.

Sign Language for Babies and Kids

Teaching babies and young kids how to sign allows them to communicate with you before they are able to speak.

This can decrease the frequency of melt-downs and tantrums as having a way to communicate what they need helps kids feel less frustrated. You can start teaching your baby sign language at any age, but keep in mind that kids learn at different rates. On average, most babies are able to recognize frequently used signs around six months old, however each child is unique so this is only a general guideline.

Many parents worry that learning to sign will delay speech development by eliminating the “need” for babies to learn to speak. Research shows the opposite is true! Learning sign language enhances development of verbal language skills. Babies who sign reach general speech milestones at the same time or earlier than non-signing babies. Sign language can also be helpful for toddlers who are struggling with speech by helping them communicate but also helping the brain process language in different ways.

Ready to get started? Let’s check out some resources to help you learn and teach your baby to sign.

Website: Start ASL Baby Sign Language Program
This section of the Start ASL website has a free 12-step program to walk you through teaching your baby sign language. Follow the lessons in order to access the next.

The site also offers free downloadable sign language letter coloring pages.

Website: Tiny Signs
The Tiny Signs website includes a dictionary of signs, special areas for parents and teachers, and a free downloadable baby sign chart with basic signs to get you started. You can purchase additional packages of sign charts and follow the blog for more information about special sign charts, upcoming classes (online or in-person), as well as tips for helping your baby learn to sign. The resources page includes recommendations for books, DVDs, online classes, and in-person classes.

App: Baby Sign and Learn
Free Trial / Lite Version [iOSAndroid] - Free to try
Full / Pro Version [iOSAndroid] - $2.99 and includes more than 300 signs
Recommended by speech therapists, this app uses animated characters to teach different signs and includes interactive features for parents to use with their little one. Take interactive quizzes together, create a favorite signs list, review flashcards, and even upload images to create custom flashcards.
Note: If you enjoy the trial version, it’s a much better deal to buy the $2.99 Full or Pro version than to use in-app purchases to add signs.

Sign Language for Adults and Teens

The next set of resources are best for learning sign language yourself or for kids and teens who are old enough to follow a self-paced learning program.

Learning to sign is a great way to communicate with a new friend or a new co-worker.

Let’s check out some resources for grown-ups and teens.

YouTube Channel: Rochelle Barlow
Focused on “real-world” signing, answering frequent questions, and bringing the hearing and deaf communities together, Rochelle Barlow has created a valuable resource with her YouTube channel. With well over 100 videos, she offers something new for everyone from beginners to more advanced signers.

Website: Start ASL
The main Start ASL website offers a sizeable collection of free online lessons. The Shop page offers a selection of ebooks for purchase and download, as well as options to hire an online tutor to work with you one-on-one.

App: The ASL App [iOSAndroid]
The ASL App is free to try with a number of no-cost sign bundles you can add. A one-time in-app purchase of $9.99 for The ASL App Pack includes all current sign bundles and access to future releases, as well as removing the ads from the app. The app focuses on conversational signing and includes over 1500 signs and several different sign demonstrators.

App: Marlee Signs [iOS only]
This app features Academy Award winning deaf actress, Marlee Matlin, as the sign demonstrator. The free app starts with fundamental signs for everyday use and expressions. The lessons are broken down into individual videos with an option to watch signs in slow motion. The app also tracks lessons completed so you can easily pick up where you left off. Add more lessons through in-app purchases as you progress and learn at your own pace.

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