Online Sign Language Dictionary Sites

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.

A man's hands making a gesture
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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

  •  Signing Savvy—This site has QuickTime videos of adult signing words from an alphabetized list.
  • ASLPro — This video dictionary is divided into the 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 provides many free self-study materials, lessons, and information, as well as fee-based instructor-guided courses. Many instructors use the ASLU lessons as a free "textbook" for their local ASL classes.
  • Handspeak — This site offers a sign language dictionary, a reverse sign language dictionary, and a ton of resources including ASL for kids, an ASL writing dictionary, ASL tutorials, and ASL/deaf culture resources, among others.
  • 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.

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 is 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 iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, is brought to you by Academy Award-winning actress, Marlee Matlin. Using this app, you can create sign language e-cards to share on social media.
1 Source
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Goldin-Meadow S, Brentari D. Gesture, sign, and language: The coming of age of sign language and gesture studies. Behav Brain Sci. 2017;40:e46. doi:10.1017/S0140525X15001247

By Jamie Berke
 Jamie Berke is a deafness and hard of hearing expert.