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Learning African sign languages via a video app

For many deaf Ghanaians, Ghanaian Sign Language is their first language. But for more deaf signers to be able to fully participate in society, more sign language interpreters, deaf school teachers and family members need to be trained. What better way to facilitate this by means of a Ghanaian Sign Language app?

With the successful launch of the first-ever Ghanaian Sign Language GSL app, members of the Ghanaian deaf community, in collaboration with researchers from Leiden University, have taken an important step in making this language more accessible. Thanks to funding from the Leiden University Fund (LUF), this app is free of charge and contains over 1300 signs from Ghanaian Sign Language and their English translations.

Quick reference for the deaf community

The app developer, Marco Nyarko (GSL tutor at University of Ghana, Legon), cannot be happier: “Honestly, this is one of my most cherished work I have ever done since I was born. This app is going to serve as quick reference to the deaf, Ghanaian Sign Language teachers, students and interpreters as well as the general deaf population in Ghana. A week after the app was published, 285 people have already downloaded it. We are excited as we received positive feedback from all those who have downloaded the app. We will keep on working hard to add more materials to the app as soon as possible.

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Leiden university researcher Victoria Nyst explains why this app is so important: "The vast majority of deaf children grow up in hearing families. Communication in a sign language is vital for developing the full cognitive, social, and linguistic potential of deaf children." She goes on to say, "I hope that this app –developed by a team of Deaf experts in Ghana- will encourage and support more people to learn Ghanaian Sign Language and communicate with deaf children and adults in Ghana."

More African sign languages to follow

The creation of this app is just one of many positive results flowing from Victoria Nyst's project Language Socialization in Deaf FamiliesSimilar apps are also being created for Kenya and Mali.

Students using the GSL app
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