Giphy, a platform that hosts the world’s largest library of animated GIFs, just released a massive collection of sign language GIFs. Acted by sign language expert Robert DeMayo, users can search, share and learn more than 2,000 words in American Sign Language.
“GIFs, as a visual format untethered from audio, makes them a perfect medium for sign language,” Hilari Scarl, director and producer at Sign With Robert, told Mashable. “The looping format makes it a perfect tool for learning through repetition. The GIF format has the ability to loop infinitely, so it’s perfect for learning new signs. [It] doesn’t require the back and forth of hitting play, rewind or repeat,” she said.
“The GIF format has the ability to loop infinitely, so it’s perfect for learning new signs.”
Text messaging is already one of the most preferred platforms for deaf and hard-of-hearing people, but these GIFs give an extra layer of emotion to written conversations. Rather than using face time or filming oneself preforming sign language, users can just send one of the prerecorded GIFs.
The producers aimed to make the GIFs as accurate as possible, including DeMayo’s exaggerated facial expressions, which allow viewers to “distinguish between interrogative and declarative sentences, modify adverbs, convey emotional tone, define spatial relationships and much more,” Scarl says.
Read more: Why I’m learning sign language as an oral, profound deafie
American Sign Language (ASL) is the most popularly used language of the Deaf communities in the United States, Canada, West Africa and Southeast Asia, according to Wikipedia.
Hearing Like Me author Ellie Parfit says that her recently studies of sign language has changed the way she communicates, even though she wears hearing aids.
“My decision to learn sign language wasn’t because I disagreed with my parents’ choice to raise me with oral communication,” she says. “(But,) for once I felt that I understood everything, without the struggles of lipreading!”
Are you learning sign language? What learning methods are you using?