I would like to preface this review of Sign4Me for iPhone and iPod touch by saying that I am not an expert in Signed English or American Sign Language (ASL), but am aware there are differences. My understanding is that while the signs for individual words are the same in both formats, the overall signing of a sentence or phrase is different because Signed English focuses on signing each word individually while ASL focuses on signing to convey an entire thought or concept.
While ASL is recognized as a foreign language study by some universities and even though advanced deaf studies in translation and interpretation may be the only way to grasp the syntax of ASL, Sign4Me by Vcom 3D Apps is a Signed English translator that was developed by ASL experts, so is a presumably accurate resource for making the correct signs of certain words.
Sign4Me does a superb job of demonstrating the formation of individual signs by utilizing a 3D signing avatar that can be viewed from any angle, at any speed. For people who are looking for a way to develop basic communication between themselves and the deaf or hard-of-hearing in their life, Sign4Me may help break down communication barriers by demonstrating how to make the sign for over 10,000 words.
To utilize Sign4Me, users type in a word in the upper field and then tap the sign icon at the bottom. To control the viewing angle, use your finger to rotate the signing avatar. You can also tap the screen to pull up a sliding speed scale to slow down the signing, turn looping on or off, or return the avatar to his default position and viewing angle. In many cases, in the event that the intended meaning of a word is subject to clarification, such as with the word “can,” Sign4Me will ask which meaning of the word you want to sign.
There is no doubt that Sign4Me puts users in control of viewing and allows your own preferences to take precedent. In terms of accuracy, the few words I do know were accurately represented as I have learned them, but their could be discrepancies. As for using Sign4Me as a study aid if you are taking a deaf studies or ASL class, I am not sure whether it would be helpful, but it could likely be used as a dictionary for individual words. The developer states it is intended to be useful to beginners interested in learning to sign to aid in communication between themselves and the deaf or hard-of-hearing.
If you are interested or have the need to learn basic signs, Sign4Me is definitely capable of demonstrating the signs with a strong visual impact. The ability to rotate viewing angles to see the signs from both the front and the back are extremely helpful. Controlling the speed to view exact finger position for the more complex signs is equally helpful.
Obviously Sign4Me is not intended to replace extensive studies and classroom instruction for those pursuing ASL certification or any other advanced form of deaf studies and communications, but could be a useful tool for those with limited or no knowledge who have the need to learn basic translation.