Thursday, 7 June 2012

MobileSign - the free BSL app for phones..

So today we heard from the Limping Chicken about the new Sign Language App for android and iPhone created by the Deaf Studies Department at Bristol University and linked with their MobileSign website.

The app proudly boasts that it contains 4184 videos of individual signs ranging from simple things like hello or good to more complex signs and even a few phrases such as what about you? face-wash or round to the left... In fact the app/website do appear to hold pretty much any sign you could need. The only sign I haven't managed to find so far is linguistics...

Having explored the website I decided to download the app itself. As I have an android phone I headed onto Google Play, the new way to download apps and searched MobileSign. The app came up straight away and I noticed that less than 100 people had downloaded it so far - a shame! Get downloading people!

I was surprised at how quickly the app downloaded given that it was supposed to contain all those sign videos - I have a similar free American Sign Language app which contains only about 100 signs but took ages to download!

Opening the app I found that it has pretty much the same set up as the webpage with a search box allowing you to use the app much like an online dictionary. So far so good...

Searching for a sign was nice and easy, I tried hello first just to get to grips with the whole idea. it came up with two possible videos - Hello and Hello (alternative).

However, when I clicked on the first Hello video my phone started to take me to a website called SignStation which is an online free website for people wanting to learn BSL. Apparently SignStation have worked with the Deaf Studies Department to create the app.

Now that would still be great - if it worked... For some reason on my phone the webpage/video won't load and instead just shuts down the whole app. As I don't know anyone else who has yet downloaded the app I can't tell if it's just my phone or whether this happens to everyone.

It's a massive shame because for a long time people have been saying that what we really need is an online/app BSL dictionary. It has multiple uses really... Obviously there is enormous benefit for those learning to sign but it could also help those communicating with Deaf people in a social situation for example asking for directions... No more need for pen and paper!
On the other hand it's possible that the app could enable us deafies to "show" people what we mean in those awkward situations where the man at the ticket office has a massive beard and you left your hearing aid at home because it was raining...

I'm sure that having a free mobile app would encourage more of my hearing friends to learn BSL, it's so expensive to take a course and often parents of deaf children are too busy looking after their child to make a weekly class - this could present the perfect solution!

So, I'm really hoping that it's just my phone which won't load this app but if anyone else has difficulties than do let me know! Maybe there's a way around it by altering phone settings or something?

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