The interactive, easy-to-use game teaches both kids and adults American Sign Language
Learning the alphabet is usually one of the very first lessons most kids learn, but for young deaf and hard of hearing children, learning the visual alphabet is a vital aspect of early cognitive and language development. One new online game is making it easy for users of all ages to learn American Sign Language (ASL), allowing parents and children to “share the joy of communicating and connecting” with their deaf or hard-of-hearing family members.
Digital creative studio Hello Monday teamed up with the American Society for Deaf Children to create Fingerspelling.xyz, a browser-based app game that is free and accessible to anyone with a computer and webcam, making it a fun and engaging way to teach the visual alphabet.
It works by tracking the user’s hand movements by way of the webcam and creating an in-game 3-D model of the player’s hand, teaching the ABCs of American Sign Language through rapid-fire timed challenges. With three levels of increased difficulty, the game then challenges the user to spell words as quickly as possible, offering real-time feedback as you go.
Hello Monday’s founding partner, Anders Jessen, told Mashable that “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.” It’s customized based on your specific hand and finger joints, as well as whether you’re right-handed or left-handed.
If it all sounds a bit complicated, don’t worry — the game was designed with young children in mind. “We created this fingerspelling tool with Hello Monday to help parents support their child’s mastery of sign language, and so parents can share the joy of communicating and connecting with their deaf child,” Cheri Dowling, director of outreach and programs for the American Society for Deaf Children, told Mashable.
Both organizations hope the game will empower deaf children and give them the ability to communicate before they even enter school, which will then provide crucial building blocks to set them up for long-term educational success. “Without being introduced to sign language at an early stage, a deaf child may miss out on learning language. This can lead to language delay or deprivation, which has long-term negative impacts on a child’s life,” a Fingerspelling.xyz rep explained to Mashable.
Along with utilizing the game, the American Society of Deaf Children also offers online ASL classes and other educational resources, including ASL book readings and courses for both adults and children alike. They also offer a directory of free, downloadable children’s stories translated into ASL, and an interactive map of state-specific ASL resources.
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