FOUNTAIN VALLEY (CBSLA.com) — Oscar-winning deaf actress Marlee Matlin has teamed up with an Orange County company to deliver an app that teaches American Sign Language.
“It’s an app for anybody who wants to learn a new language,” Matlin said. “There are a lot of books out there teaching sign language, but it’s hard to learn because they aren’t visual; they aren’t in three dimensions. Whereas, an app, you can see it move, see it work, see it sign.”
“Marlee Signs” teaches the fundamentals of ASL, from signed alphabet and basic vocabulary to common expressions in everyday life.
The program allows users to slow down a translation or ask for the specific spelling of any word. There are even baby sign language lessons.
“The Children Of A Lesser God” star is the face of the app, which she helped create with MEDL Mobile. The Fountain Valley-based company develops apps for mobile phones and tablets.
“There are a great series of lessons that will allow you to converse with someone who’s deaf,” Matlin said. “It’s not a substitute for a sign language class, but it’s a good place to start. It’s a good place to learn language and then you can be inspired to do more, if you like.”
There are six lesson packs: the first one is free and the others cost $1.99.
Matlin said the app reviews have been positive and she hopes to do more with the technology. She wants to develop a system that helps those who are deaf or hearing-impaired communicate with 911 operators.