The Baobab: A Storybook App for Children who are Deaf


The Science of Learning Center on Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2) at Gallaudet University has released the first of a series of three bilingual storybook apps that will simultaneously help children learn American Sign Language (ASL) and English. The app includes an original story told in both ASL and English, colorful illustrations, easy & accessible navigation designed for children, interactive narrative with direct English to ASL vocabulary video translation, audio voice-over provided for all vocabulary words, and an 170-word ASL and spoken English glossary. Learning both American Sign Language and English at the same time, through a bilingual approach, has been shown to provide cognitive, language, and reading advantages for young children.

Universal Design (UD) is an approach to design that increases the potential for developing a better quality of life for a wide range of individuals. It is a design process that enables and empowers a diverse population by improving human performance, health and wellness, and social participation (Steinfeld and Maisel, 2012). It creates products, systems, and environments to be as usable as possible by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability or situation.