India’s ‘silent’ language finding its voice


By Aaryan Sharma

It’s great to see a number of new resources coming up for Indian Sign Language (ISL), which could enable many among the hearing community to begin learning ISL. While there are abundant resources for American Sign Language, the online resources for ISL were very limited until a few months ago. Now, however, there are quite a few coming up. Here are some we want to highlight:



Spreadthesign is an international dictionary website which has collated many sign words from many different sign languages across the globe, including ISL. The website is very easy and convenient to use. You just go and search for the word you are looking for, and it brings up the video of the word. Click on the Indian flag to see the ISL version. You can also browse through their word database in the categories section. While their collection of ISL words is limited, it is great for starting out and learning the basics.They also have an Android and iOS app.



OneSignPerDay launched by Enable India, a project managed by Vishnu Soman, was to share one common ISL word per day via email or whatsapp, making it easy to learn new words and expand your vocabulary without having to spend much time on it. The channel currently has around 60 videos.

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ISL Dictionary


ISL Dictionary by Mobile Seva is an Android app which hosts a large collection of ISL translations for English words. While the word collection is not exhaustive, it is one of the most extensive resources we have seen for ISL and has sufficient vocabulary to enable effective simple communication in ISL. There are also variants of the app which contain the ISL translations in regional languages.



Another dictionary for ISL, this website hosts a large collection of advanced vocabulary and subject-specific words. While it is not the best resource for basics, it is a great way to learn advanced words and words specific to a particular topic.

http://www.indiandeaf.org/ is another one such resource

While it is much easier to learn from sessions and instructors, these resources offer a good way to learn new vocabulary and keep in touch with ISL. Of course, nothing matches learning ISL by communicating with the deaf, but it is great to see the emergence of ISL online resources.

India still has a problem of  accessibility to trainers who can teach ISL person to person via video or face to face sessions -but as more and more hearing take an interest in learning ISL,  it is only a matter of time before this too will become a an excellent avenue for trainers and potential students.