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This article is a guide to help you find the best apps to learn ASL or American Sign Language. There is no accurate count of people who use ASL, but there are more than 500,000 people in the United States that are deaf or hard of hearing. In the past, learning ASL could be challenging due to a lack of resources, but now, there are more apps than ever available to help you learn ASL quickly and effectively.
American Sign Language (ASL) is the recognized language of deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States. Unlike other languages, ASL is a purely visual language. In addition to using hand signs, body movements and facial expressions are important to convey your message clearly. If you aren’t sure of a sign, you can use fingerspelling (or dactylology), where you spell out a name or a word using the manual alphabet.
ASL is also unique because, as the name suggests, it’s only used in America. If you travel to another country they will use a different type of sign language. Even within certain regions in the United States, there can be variations for certain signs.
As the National Association of the Deaf says, “Learning American Sign Language takes time, patience, practice, and a sense of humor.” So let’s take a look at some apps that can help you start on your ASL journey!
What Are The Best Apps To Learn American Sign Language (ASL)?
To find the best apps to learn American Sign Language, I looked at well-known language programs and in the app store to find reputable options. I read user reviews to see what each app did well and common complaints. Next, I tested every app to see if it was useful and determine what they excelled at.
Below is the table of the 7 best apps to learn ASL and what they are best for. Scroll down to read more about each one.
|Best Overall App to Learn ASL|
|Best for ASL Beginners|
|Best to Find an ASL Teacher|
|Best App to Learn with Video Flashcards|
|Best App for Gamified Learning Experience|
|Best App to Learn ASL Vocabulary|
|Best App to Learn ASL for Free|
Best Overall App to Learn ASL
Rocket ASL Overview
Rocket Languages has a developed ASL course that will take you from beginner to intermediate. The course structure is well-defined and walks you through every step of learning ASL. Each lesson features videos of people signing and detailed explanations of how to combine signs into sentences.
Rocket also includes tons of information on deaf culture, such as how to join a conversation with people who are signing and the importance of signing space. This takes their course a step further than some other apps where you only learn the signs, but not about the context in which they are used.
You can learn more about the app in this overall Rocket Languages review.
- Detailed lessons that walk you through every step
- Videos that show you how to sign words and phrases
- Learn about deaf culture and the ASL community
- Video flashcards to help you remember signs
Rocket’s ASL course costs $99.95, but the price is often discounted. This one-time payment gives you lifetime access to the entire course and all the content available. You can test out the course with a 7-day free trial.
Best for ASL Beginners
ASL Bloom Overview
ASL Bloom was designed to help families and friends of deaf children learn how to sign. It’s a perfect app for beginners because it starts from the very beginning and uses spaced repeptition to help you remember what you learn. The videos show exactly how to make a sign. In addition to the lessons, there are practice quizzes and flashcards, as well as a sign bank that let’s you search for a specific sign.
ASL Bloom also teaches important topics related to deaf culture to provide a deeper understanding. The app was created by the company SignLab, which offers separate apps for different sign languages, such as British Sign Language, and Indian Sign Language.
You can learn more about the app in this ASL Bloom review.
- Videos show how to sign correctly
- Learn about deaf culture and how ASL works
- Learn how to combine signs into phrases and sentences
- Sign Bank that lets you search for signs
An annual subscription to ASL Bloom Premium costs $8.25 per month ($98.99 billed yearly). Or if you prefer to pay quarterly, it costs $15.99 per month ($47.99 billed quarterly). ASL Bloom offers three units with 5-6 lessons each that you can use for free to see if you like the app.
Best App to Find an ASL Teacher
Italki is a platform that connects language learners to tutors that specialize in a language. You can find tutors that teach ASL, as well as tutors that teach other variations of sign language. When you choose a tutor, you can tell them what you want to study or have them create a lesson plan for you.
While italki is used more for languages like Spanish and German, there are a few tutors that teach ASL. The teachers are highly-qualified and have excellent ratings from past students. You can search their profiles to find a teacher that’s right for you.
You can learn more about the app in this italki review.
- Learn exactly how and when you want
- Search for teachers based on different criteria
- Teachers set their own prices
- See past student ratings and reviews
Tutors set their own price on italki so there’s a wide range. The average price for an hour-long ASL class is between $15.00-$20.00. Usually, teachers that are new to the platform set lower prices to build their student base. There isn’t a free trial, but most tutors offer a discounted trial class so you can see if you like their teaching style.
The ASL App
Best to Learn With Video Flashcards
The ASL App Overview
The ASL App was designed by deaf people to help friends and family who want to learn to sign. It’s a simple app that includes vocabulary lists such as colors, education, and pop culture. You click on a list to watch video flashcards that you can sign along with.
Each video can be repeated, saved to a favorites list, or slowed down so you can really see how to sign the word or phrase correctly. Some videos also include additional information and context on how to use the sign.
- Many different vocabulary lists
- Watch signing in slow motion
- Create a favorites list of signs you want to practice
- Tips and info on how to use the signs
The ASL App is free to download and gives you access to a few packs such as the ABCs and universal gestures. If you want access to all the content, you can buy the entire pack for $9.99. With this purchase, you’ll also receive any future sign bundles.
Best App For Gamified Learning Experience
Lingvano makes learning sign language into a game. The lesson style is very similar to Duolingo. You work your way through each lesson by learning new signs and then linking them together to create sentences and conversations.
Lingvano offers more practice activities than other ASL apps. Instead of watching and repeating signs, there are other activities, like choosing what the sign means and which sign is correct for a word. You can also use your camera in the app to see if you are signing correctly.
- Learn American Sign Language (ASL) or British Sign Language (BSL)
- Tips and info on how to use the signs
- Gamified practice makes learning fun
- Use your camera in the app to see if you are signing correctly
Lingvano costs $17.99 per month but is less expensive if you buy more months. You can get 3 months for $47.99 ($15.99 per month) or one year for $119.99 ($9.99 per month). Try the first lesson for free on Lingvano to see if you like it before subscribing!
Best App to Learn ASL Vocabulary
Pocket Sign Overview
Pocket Sign has short and interactive lessons that will help you learn a lot of signs quickly. The lessons are divided into topics such as food, work, technology, and more. Each video gives a tip on how to remember the sign. For example, the sign for tea looks like dipping a tea bag into a cup.
By working your way through the Pocket Sign course you’ll learn a ton of vocabulary. The practice activities in the lessons are fun and are varied enough to keep your attention. You can learn on the go and take a lesson or two if you have some spare time.
- Lots of lessons to choose from
- Tips on how to remember the sign
- Earn “treasure” to motivate you to learn
- Dictionary to search for signs you want to learn
Pocket Sign costs $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year ($4.99 per month). You can see if you like Pocket Sign with a 14-day free trial. There is also one free daily lesson you can try.
Best App to Learn ASL for Free
Sign School Overview
SignSchool is another app that uses video flashcards to teach signs. You can learn signs randomly or search their extensive vocabulary lists. Watch the videos and practice signing along. Videos can be slowed down to see clearly how to sign.
SignSchool also has additional features, like a dictionary, practice games, and word of the day email. Some features, like the games, are only available on the website. But the most important activity, the video flashcards are available on the app.
- Tons of vocabulary lists to learn from
- Dictionary to help you learn words you want to know
- Games to make learning ASL fun
- Sign of the Day email
SignSchool is completely free. You can download the app or use it on a computer. Just create an account and you’re ready to start signing!
Why You Should Use Apps To Learn American Sign Language (ASL)
Apps are a great way to start learning ASL. Not everyone has access to an ASL class or private tutor, so apps are a convenient way for anyone to learn. You can practice on your own schedule, and most ASL apps are relatively inexpensive, or even free!
How To Use Apps To Learn American Sign Language (ASL)
While ASL doesn’t have as many resources as other languages, there are still quite a few good options out there. Since most apps have a free trial, you can try out 2 or 3 to see which one you like best.
Once you have an app that works well for you, it’s important to set a learning routine. Consistent practice, even if it’s just a few minutes per day or a few times per week is more effective than studying for a long time every now and then. Most apps make learning convenient and even remind you that it’s time for you to study.
Best Apps To Learn American Sign Language (ASL): Final Thoughts
Fortunately, we have recently seen a move to becoming a more inclusive society. Even if you aren’t deaf or hard of hearing, maybe you have a friend or family member that is. Learning ASL can be helpful to create an accessible environment for all. Even signing a few words and phrases can show you are welcoming to the deaf community.
On a personal note, when I was researching this article and practicing with the apps, I learned a lot about the deaf community and culture. It had never occurred to me before some of the ways to approach and interact with people who use ASL. Realizing my lack of knowledge when it comes to the deaf and hard of hearing community has encouraged me to learn more, and I hope this list helps you along your ASL journey, as well!
Best Apps To Learn ASL: FAQ
Yes! With the help of apps, you can start learning ASL easily. Most apps feature videos of people signing so you can see exactly what to do and how to make the signs. Learning with apps, you can reach up to an intermediate level. If you want to continue past this point, you will probably need a qualified ASL teacher.
Learning specific ASL signs isn’t that difficult. With practice and repetition, you can quickly increase your vocabulary. As with any new language, the difficult part is connecting words into sentences. ASL is unique and has its own specific rules that must be followed. But with practice and dedication, you will see improvement in your signing.
This depends on many factors, such as what level of fluency you want to reach and how much time you have to dedicate to studying. If you practice in a consistent manner, within 6 months you will probably be able to have a basic conversation. Reaching a fluent level can take a year or more.
This depends on your learning goals, but overall Rocket Languages is the best app to learn ASL. It has a well-developed course that walks you through the basics step-by-step. It also provides context and explanations so you know exactly how to use certain signs and their variations. Because of this, Rocket Languages is the most comprehensive way to learn ASL.
Duolingo doesn’t have ASL available. But there are plenty of other apps that do. Rocket Languages is another well-known language app that offers a complete ASL course. There are also some excellent apps that were specifically made to teach ASL like Pocket Sign and Lingvano.