.XYZ is the chosen domain extension for many mission-driven changemakers. JoyInc.xyz was founded by young Nigerian lawyer Chude Jideonwo to support better education, develop healthier psychology, and generate impactful social movements in Africa. ForceofNature.xyz is a youth-led non-profit organization dedicated to helping fellow young people realize their change-making potential in the face of climate change. Afritech.xyz is a program designed to connect early-stage tech startups in Africa to mentors and investors worldwide. In this week’s #WebsiteWednesday, we’ll introduce you to American Society for Deaf Children’s new online app designed to help parents communicate with their deaf children: Fingerspelling.xyz.
Fingerspelling.xyz is a fun and engaging resource created by non-profit organization American Society for Deaf Children (ASDC) to help families of deaf and hard of hearing children learn American Sign Language (ASL). ASDC is “committed to empowering diverse families with deaf children and youth by embracing full access to language-rich environments through mentoring, advocacy, resources, and collaborative networks.”1 Statistics indicate that nearly three out of 1,000 children in the US are born with hearing loss, and more than 90 percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents.2 ASDC worked with creative studio Hello Monday to build an innovative and educational website that teaches “fingerspelling” – a form of ASL in which individual letters are formed by the fingers to spell out words.
The web-based app is designed to be fun and encouraging for players of all ages to enjoy learning ASL. Once you start, you are given a word and the computer shows you a 3D model of how your hand should be positioned for each letter of the word. For example, a player could be given the word “clay” and asked to spell it. You are then prompted to sign the first letter. The app utilizes the user’s webcam to track their hand movements as they practice the hand positions of the ASL alphabet, while an algorithm trained on images of correct hand positions analyzes the accuracy. On the left-hand side of the screen, there is a 3D hand that shows you how your hand and fingers should be positioned. On the right-hand side is the feed from your web camera, and you then hold up your hand and mirror what the 3D hand shows a C looks like. There are indicators on the 3D hand that help you see if your fingers are positioned correctly. Once you succeed, you are advanced to the next letter.
Feedback on this innovative learning tool has been extremely positive. Organizations praise the website for its design and innovation. England’s FWA, whose mission is to “showcase cutting edge creativity, regardless of the medium or technology used” named Fingerspelling.xyz their “FWA of the month” in May 2021.3 That same month, global web design organization Awwwards named Fingerspelling.xyz their site of the day.4 A quick search on Twitter shows additional high praise.5 Stephen Shankland of CNET News tweeted “This is a marvelous way to learn the sign language alphabet. Computer camera tracks your hand and AI figures out your finger positions.”6
Fun online learning can help just about anyone master a new skill with the click of a mouse. Fingerspelling.xyz teaches the fundamentals of ASL and exemplifies ASDC’s mission of promoting the empowerment of families with deaf children by giving them a useful tool to help them communicate in a fun and engaging way. Their interest in making an app that can teach anyone to better communicate with those experiencing hearing loss is inspiring. You can visit the platform at Fingerspelling.xyz to learn more.
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