Recently the National Science Foundation-funded Science of Learning Center on Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2) at Gallaudet University research center released a new storybook app, The Baobab, to aid the acquisition of American Sign Language and English.
Decoded Science reported on this new iPad app and wanted to know from VL2 how it was being received. Other questions raised around this app and its importance were regarding whether there is a critical age for beginning language acquisition for deaf and hard of hearing and if there is an issue of the long-term impact of delayed exposure to language for deaf individuals and how this can app help.
Baobab App Success Story
Decoded Science: Melissa, how is the Baobab App being received, have you had feedback?
Melissa Malzkuhn: While this app is targeted towards deaf children, it has a great benefit to the broader community. For instance, I chatted with a mother recently, a professional American Sign Language interpreter, who said her hearing 7-year old daughter who knows a few signs loved the app and had so much fun learning the signs and even practiced signing and fingerspelling in front of a mirror. She said her daughter went through every vocabulary word and copied them back by signing. A few other parents have told us the same stories, that their kids start to copy the signing. Their stories have inspired us and help us drive our passion back into creating more storybook apps with the same framework as established from The Baobab.
Decoded Science:What were the main aims of the release of the app?
Melissa Malzkuhn: At VL2 we wanted to release an app to the community especially to hearing parents with a deaf child, so the child can benefit from early bilingual exposure. This leads to the acquisition of both languages that will have an impact later in life.