Online Sign Language Dictionary Sites

Find a Sign Language Dictionary on the Internet

Hands making gesture: one hand held straight on open palm of other
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Who uses a sign language dictionary? Think of the times you've watched someone giving a speech or lecture while, nearby, another person used rapid movements of hands, torso, and face to "sign" what the person speaking was saying. Their use of sign language allowed deaf or partially deaf people to "hear" right along with you and everyone else.

People who use signing to communicate with those who have hearing problems need ways to build their vocabulary or find just the "right" word.

Of course, that makes them no different from the rest of us -- except for where they look to find the "words" they need.

If you're one of them, you can find the words you need on the Internet, in a sign language dictionary.

A number of websites offer drawings, pictures, cartoons, books, and videos to help you learn the proper signs for particular words. 

Sign Language Dictionary Sites

  • ASL Browser -- This site has QuickTime videos of an adult signing words from an alphabetized list developed by the Communication Technology Laboratory at Michigan State University. An updated companion site, with more features, is at Signing Savvy.
  • ASLPro -- This video dictionary is divided into a main dictionary, religious dictionary, conversational phrases, and a baby sign dictionary.
  • ASLDeafined -- This is a pay site run by two sign language specialists. In addition to a dictionary, it has a series of video lessons organized by topic.
  • ASL University -- This site has groups of words, photos, and cartoons.
  • Handspeak -- This is a pay site with an alphabetic dictionary that includes homemade signs, such as for "browser."
  • ASL Video Dictionary and Inflection Guide (from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf) -- This is a pay site. The QuickTime video dictionary shows signs and includes examples of how the signs are used in sentences. Just as words in English can have multiple meanings, the same sign can be used for different meanings by using different inflections, and this is demonstrated via the sentence examples. This site also offers signs in category groups. A CD version is available.
  • LessonTutor -- This site groups words by theme, such as pets. Simple black-and-white sketches are paired with written explanations of how to make the signs.
  • Signing Online -- This is a pay site that helps people learn sign language.

Sign Language Word Reference Guides has a master Sign Language Word Reference Guide, which is an A to Z sign language dictionary of words for which the signs can be found online. In addition, has several themed mini guides:

Everyday Signs

Holiday Signs

Video and Print Resources to Learn Sign Language

Sign language videos can be purchased through a variety of vendors of products for the deaf and hard of hearing. In addition, sign language learning videos can be viewed free online by registering with the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP), which lends video materials and streams them online.

To find sign language learning materials on the DCMP website, browse topics to "Deafness," then go to "Sign Language." Among the popular videos available for streaming are the Bravo Family Beginning ASL Video courses.

If you prefer a book, sign language books for children and for adults are available.

Mobile Apps to Learn Sign Language

Using mobile apps, you can have everything you need to learn sign language in the palm of your hand.

  • ASL Dictionary for Android shows videos of signs and allows you to run them in slow motion or on a loop for easy learning.
  • Marlee Signs, for for iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, is brought to you from Academy Award-winning actress, Marlee Matlin. Using this app, you can create sign language e-cards to share on social media.
  • ASL Pro for iPhone, iPad, or Android (also available in a free, Lite version) allows you to look up signs for common words.

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