Learning American Sign Language (ASL) just got a little easier thanks to language-learning platform Drops. The company announced today that ASL is now available for eager learners on its app Scripts, which teaches learners how to read and write alphabets and character-based language systems.
It opted to launch today, because it’s the United Nations’ “International Day of Sign Languages.” Drops is one of the only multilanguage platforms to offer ASL alongside other languages, making ASL as accessible as learning, say, Spanish or Italian. It’s a clever move, as there are 72 million deaf people and 466 million people with disabling hearing loss worldwide and plenty of people who want to be able to communicate with them. In the U.S. and anglophone Canada, ASL is how as many as 500,000 people talk to each other.
To create the app, Drops commissioned Yiqiao Wang, a graphic designer and senior artist at the Science of Learning Center on Visual Language & Visual Learning at Gallaudet University, the world’s only university in which all programs and services are specifically designed to accommodate deaf and hard-of-hearing students, to design all of the in-app illustrations. The result is an easy-to-follow learning guide to the ASL alphabet.
Like all of Drops languages, ASL is free for five minutes a day via Scripts, which isn’t a lot of time, but should allow a determined learner to pick up a few things if they don’t want to pony up for access. Also, Drops currently just offers the ASL alphabet. If you want to move past fingerspelling, here are a few other app- and web-based sign language-learning options.