When it comes to learning the American Sign Language alphabet, there are various resources out there. You can turn to instructional books and videos — even Giphy can offer some help. Now you can add a tool called Fingerspelling.xyz to that list.
It comes courtesy of creative studio Hello Monday and the American Society for Deaf Children. They’ve created a web-based experience you can access on your computer that takes advantage of machine learning and computer vision software to make the process fun and easy. Think of it as having a free ASL teacher.
You’ll need a web camera — but don’t worry. The two say the software will process everything locally and won’t send or store any data from your camera. Once you get started, the app will teach you to spell words in ASL, showing you the proper way to position your fingers along the way. And as you make each letter with your hand, you’ll see a percentage score to give you an idea of how you’re doing.
As for the reasons behind the project, it ultimately comes down to creating better outcomes for deaf people. Approximately two to three out of every 1,000 babies born in the US are either deaf or hard-of-hearing. In most cases, they’re children of hearing parents and the first deaf person those adults have encountered. When you don’t introduce deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to sign language at an early stage in life, there’s a good chance their overall language capabilities will suffer. In turn, that’s something that can lead to difficulties later in life. When parents go out of their way to learn and teach their deaf or hard-of-hearing child sign language, they’re making a life-changing decision for the better.
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