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Giphy launches a library of American Sign Language GIFs

Giphy recently released a collection of GIFs featuring words in American Sign Language, Mashable reports. The 2,000-GIF library is meant to serve as a resource for people who want to learn sign language and those who already rely on it to communicate.

As Mashable points out, the GIFs are all pulled from an educational series called Sign With Robert, starring actor and ASL consultant Robert DeMayo. Rather than serve as a pithy reaction or a visual joke, the ASL GIFs are creating an educational experience by taking advantage of the GIF format.

“GIFs, as a visual format untethered from audio, makes them a perfect medium for sign language,” Hilari Scarl, Sign With Robert’s director, told Mashable. Scarl also points out that a GIF’s constant repetition makes it useful for a person trying to pick up new language skills.

Right now the collection includes GIFs for simple words and phrases like party, weather, color, and Forth of July. Giphy determined which words to release first based on the terms its users most frequently searched for, but it plans to keep expanding the collection in the future.

Giphy has always focused on making GIFs even more fun for users, but the ASL collection proves that the company recognizes the potential for the GIF to be a powerful language tool.

The library will appear in Giphy’s regular search results.


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