Communicator CD-ROM and ASL Browser Web Site
The CD-ROM was created in 1997. Unfortunately, it is now out-of-date and will not run on modern operating systems, such as Windows Vista and Mac OS X. The ASL Browser is still available online. You can also check out Signing Savvy, a similar, but newer product.
Content Expert: Professor David Stewart
Co-PI: Patrick Dickson
Director of Software Development: Carrie Heeter
Lead Hypercard Programmer: Randy Russell
Lead Director Programmer: Brian WInn
ASL Browser Programming: Brian Winn
The Personal Communicator was developed in 1994-1996
funded in part by a grant 3 year grant from the U.S. Department
of Education. In 1995 the Personal Communicator won Discover Magazine's
Software Innovation of the Year Award. The software was originally
created using Hypercard. Randy Russell served as lead programmer
and Susanna Tellschow was lead artist. As digital video and compression
technology improved, we were able to rerecord the ASL signs, expanding
the raw number from the original 300 up to beyond 2500 signs. We
added English synonyms, increasing the number of English words covered
to more than 4500. Brian Winn, working with Carrie and Tim Mallos,
redesigned the interface and ported it from Hypercard to Macromedia
Director, making it a cross-platform, Mac and Windows product.
All of the recorded sign videos plus explanations
from David Stewart of how the signs are formed can be viewed online
at the ASL Browser web site. Last year the site had more than 9
million visits. Kyle Tait and Brian Winn designed the web site.
Tim Mallos was responsible for videotaping the signs. Lisa Lockwood
was our signer. Kurt Besecker supervised digitizing and processing
of the signs.
-- "An outstanding site in its subject area."
Web Feet, Summer, 2002
-- selected for MERLOT database as a distinguished, high-quality
source of learning material, November, 2000 and June, 2002
-- September 2001 Site of the Day at Techlearning.com’s Site
of the Day
-- licensed by the CIA for use on their internal network, 2002
-- September 2001 Site of the Day at Techlearning.com
-- featured on Spanish and World Languages/Cultures website, March
-- rated "Wonderful!" and awarded 4 stars in the 3/21/2001
syndicated newspaper column "Surfing the Net with Kids."
-- four stars on "Surfing the Net with Kids” national
column, March, 2001
-- New on the Net selection of the month, Electronic School magazine,
-- included in the Scout Report for Social Sciences, 1999
-- Discover Magazine's Software
Innovation of the Year Award, 1995.
A Tool for
Learning and Communicating in American Sign Language
The Personal Communicator creates
a common ground for communicating in American Sign Language
(ASL) and English. Using hypermedia technology, the Personal
Communicator is a user friendly program that brings ASL
communication capabilities to the desktop and notebook computer.
With more than 2500 digital video signs and 4500 English words
(plus variations on these words) the Personal Communicator
can be a useful tool in communication, education, and other
The Personal Communicator includes
a simple Word Processor that will convert your typed English
text into American Sign Language signs and Speech for learning
or communication purposes. The English-ASL Dictionary allows
you to look up word meanings and signs. The ASL Playroom is
for you to not only learn new signs, but have fun along the
way. Included in the playroom are clickable objects that react
to the user with audio and video feedback, and give the user
the sign for the object they selected. The ASL Browser contains
the complete ASL Browser Web Site on the CD-ROM for your convenience.
The ASL Browser provides a straightforward interface to accessing
over 2500 signs. (NOTE: The program does not convert English
syntax to ASL syntax.)
The Personal Communicator was partially
funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and
developed by the Communication Technology Lab at Michigan
Version 2.4 of the Personal Communicator
CD-ROM is new and improved and runs on Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP
and MacOS 8 or newer (OSX via Classic) and requires at least
32 MB of RAM.
"Classroom and futuristic screen backgrounds
make learning fun as the Personal Communicator helps deaf
children, and their hearing peers, to communicate better."
New Media Magazine