bilingual & interactive storybook apps

To help young deaf children learn to read, it is important to provide quality storytelling in sign language, and connections to the printed word. Our VL2 Storybook Apps, built on the VL2 Storybook Creator platform allows for story creation in two languages - one signed and one written/printed. This work is revolutionary and groundbreaking - the first literacy tool for young deaf readers to read independently, become engaged, motivated, and have fun learning, and reading.


This work started soon after the first iPad came out (that was in 2010). It was like a lightbulb that went off. I saw the integration of video and text, how it was possible to design a bilingual interface, and how we could transform the reading experience for deaf children. The research foundations of the Science of Learning Center on Visual Language and Visual Learning, served as the foundations to the design approaches.

Let me elaborate just a bit on the "bilingual interface" design:

There are three modes: WATCH, READ, and LEARN. In the WATCH mode, deaf children get a full story video, with the background animated and a talented, fluent, professional storyteller telling the story. The rhythm, the pausing, the arc, the conflict, and the resolution - all in the story - children absorb that in sign language only. This is exposure to sign language - giving them the whole big picture. The animated, art in background reinforces the story and their comprehension. Then, there is the READ mode. The story is transformed into what feels like a book. Children swipe the pages, like they "turn" pages of a book. On each page, a video supports the written text, from one to three sentences per page. There are some words in the sentences that are highlighted - when those words are tapped, a video opens up to sign and fingerspell the vocabulary word. This helps the emerging readers see the connection from the sign to the word. The LEARN mode has all these highlighted word in an alphabetized list. Children LOVE to review the words, by tapping on each video to see if they know the word.

Our work has been honored and recognized as an Innovative Practice, by Zero Project.


The Baobab

The Baobab is an original story about a curious little girl who goes on a search for a rare, delicious fruit growing from an ancient Baobab tree. The little girl encounters animals and lands herself in a peculiar situation! Children will enjoy the daring little girl's mishaps and adventures, the rich ASL storytelling, and the captivating watercolor illustrations. 


The Boy Who Cried Wolf

The classic Aesop's fable about the boy who cried wolf will be brought to life in a wholly new medium with vivid ASL storytelling, adding creative elements to a timeless tale. Accompanied by detailed paintings that evoke times of yore, this storybook app will display the story in both languages with vocabulary support. 


The Little Airplane That Could

The Little Airplane That Could is a creative adaption of the popular children's classic by Watty Piper, The Little Engine That Could. In this adaption, the story centers on two extraordinary show dogs who were scheduled to give a dog show on the other side of the mountain, reachable only by taking an airplane over the peak. As it happens, the dogs' original flight were cancelled! How will they get to their show?

Illustrated in a retro comic book style, The Little Airplane That Could contains rich examples of American Sign Language personifications. This linguistic element is unique to sign languages, in which the storyteller adopts the persona of characters and inanimate objects and takes advantage of cinematic techniques to create an amazing, visually detailed tale.


The Solar System

The Solar System takes you on a journey through our solar system in both American Sign Language and English. Narrated by Lorne Farnovich, The Solar System is full of fun facts and rich in visual information for a great learning experience. VL2 Storybook Apps are designed to provide an optimal reading experience for young and emerging readers - with three modes to engage young readers. The WATCH mode features a narration by Lorne Farnovich; the READ mode is packed with sentence videos on each page, with pop up videos for glossary definitions of vocabulary words. The LEARN mode is a glossary of vocabulary words definitions. Illustrations are done by Yiqiao Wang.


Museum of Errors

Inspired by Italian children book author, Gianni Rodari, Museum of Errors is rich in word play and creative uses of language, in which we would call "tongue-twisters" (or hand-twisters!). It is about a museum with a main exhibition of showing where things go... perfectly wrong! Children and adults will delight in the absurdity of the stories, the possibilities, and the twist on your perspective of what is 'wrong' or 'right'.

What would happen if Elves try to interpret? What if a parrot tries to sign? Their absurdities are made real in Museum of Errors!

With original and colorful illustrations and animations by Silvia Palmieri, Museum of Errors brings new incredible talents to show, and a very imaginative storyline. Storytelling is by Conrad Baer, 3rd generation Deaf and native ASL user.

This storybook app has over 150 vocabulary words, signed and fingerspelled, with 22 pages of ASL sentence videos - it's a proud addition to our collection of high quality VL2 storybook apps.