Purpose of App Review
To announce and review a new sign language app, Marlee Signs, by actress Marlee Matlin.
Academy-award winning deaf actress Marlee Matlin comes to the smallest screen yet – the one in your pocket – to teach you sign language with her new American Sign Language app, Marlee Signs. Marlee Signs is a collaborative effort between Marlee and MEDLMobile.
The app, compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, is free and comes with a basic sign language lesson pack. Five other lesson packs, including a “baby signs” pack, are available at $1.99 each.
The app is designed to teach users basic sign language through a series of videos in which Marlee demonstrates ASL vocabulary. It has two main modalities of teaching ASL: Spell and Library (which contains the lesson packs).
The Spell feature allows you to watch Marlee fingerspell almost any word you type in the text field. The app will slowly progress through each letter, but you can swipe back and forth to advance or go back at your own pace.
If the word is not in the database, the app displays a video of Marlee signing “no.”
In Library, you can access the basic “You lesson pack” as well as any of the lesson packs you have purchased from the in-app Store. Packs available include Around You (everyday signs, conversation), Home (household items, food), Around Town (directions, activities), Around World (weather, money, animals), and Baby Signs. Accessing videos for the signs you want to learn is easy. First, choose a lesson pack from the list.
Upon selecting the lesson pack, a list of general categories will be displayed. Tapping on one of those will open a further list of specific signs.
From here you can select the video you wish to play. You will then see Marlee demonstrate your chosen sign. She is poised in a solid green shirt against a black background, so you can easily focus on the action of her signing.
Tap the video at any time to replay the video or enter Slow Motion mode. The new Slow Motion feature is especially helpful to ensure that you are learning the sign accurately.
Swiping left and right will take you through all of the signs in your selected general category.
- Marlee Signs is a great app for beginners who are interested in getting their feet wet with ASL, especially if they can’t make it to an actual sign language class. The starter pack (included with the app) as well as the five other lesson packs provide a solid foundation of basic ASL knowledge that the user can build on later.
- Friendly user interface
- Crisp, clear videos
- Solid vocabulary of basic signs available through lesson packs
- A medical sign lesson pack would be extremely beneficial for providers
Healthcare providers that would benefit from the app
- All providers could benefit from this app, as they are likely to encounter deaf patients at some point in their career.
Patients that would benefit from the app
- Anyone who would like to learn basic signs
- Parents who would like to use basic signs with their babies
- People with deaf loved ones or children with special needs who use ASL to communicate
- The high-quality videos and ability to view them over again in slow motion means the app has great potential as an effective teaching tool. Marlee Signs won’t make you proficient at sign language, but is an inexpensive, convenient way to gain familiarity with some common ASL signs.
Rating: (1 to 5 stars)
Overall: 4.75 stars
User Interface: 5 stars, Easy to navigate, clean user interface. Slow motion feature is especially welcome.
Multimedia usage: 5 stars, Videos are high quality, clear and not distracting.
Price: 5 stars, The app is free and includes the basic lesson pack. Additional lesson packs are only $1.99.
Real world applicability: 4 stars, This app is a solid start to learning ASL, but its practical use may be limited without extra practice or a real ASL class. Expanding the availability of lesson packs, especially to include a medical signs pack (useful for both providers and patients), would also improve utility.