Motion Light Lab at Gallaudet University Launches Free ASL Literacy Activities to Support Deaf Children and Their Families During Covid-19 Remote Learning

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ASL Literacy Activities support deaf children and their families with remote learning during Covid-19 and offer a full suite of free resources, including daily educational activities and live storytelling, all in American Sign Language and English.

ASL Literacy Activities from the Motion Light Lab at Gallaudet University

ASL Literacy Activities from the Motion Light Lab at Gallaudet University

Few things are more important for our deaf children right now than ensuring education continuity and sign language support for their families.

The Motion Light Lab at Gallaudet University has launched ASL Literacy Activities to support deaf children and their families with remote learning during Covid-19. ASL Literacy Activities offer a full suite of free resources, including daily educational activities and live storytelling, all in American Sign Language (ASL) and English.

“Few things are more important for our deaf children right now than ensuring education continuity and sign language support for their families,” said Melissa Malzkuhn, founder and creative director of the Motion Light Lab in the Science of Learning Center on Visual Language and Visual Learning at Gallaudet University. “As a mom of a deaf son, I am well aware of the challenges of at-home education during these tough times. We want families to know we are here for them, and we are providing quality ASL/English resources for their children to continue developing literacy skills.”

VL2 Storybook Apps: The Centerpiece of ASL Literacy Activities

The centerpiece of the ASL Literacy Activities is the Motion Light Lab’s award-winning VL2 ASL Storybook Apps. Every week, the Motion Light Lab offers a free Storybook App which includes daily offerings in ASL and English, live storytelling “sign aloud” on Mondays, and an ASL/English literacy lesson live-streamed every Wednesday on YouTube featuring deaf narrators and accompanying worksheets for a deeper dive into each story. The daily themed offerings are Marvelous Monday, Thinking Tuesday, Wondrous Wednesday, Terrific Thursday with arts and crafts, and Fun Friday featuring an interactive quiz. To date, five Storybook Apps have been introduced: The Baobab, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Buck and Bull, The Little Airplane That Could, and Museum of Errors. Currently, more than 1,200 families from around the world are participating.

“Motion Light Lab’s ASL Literacy Activities have been an incredible resource for language and connection during this time of distance learning for our four-year-old and our two-year-old,” said Ronda Jo and Anne Grace Donatucci. “They love the interactive stories and supplemental activity kits that go along with each story.”

First created by Malzkuhn and her team in 2013, the VL2 Storybook Apps are designed on the fundamental premise that every child loves and deserves a great story. Backed by research on visual learning and bilingualism, the VL2 Storybook Apps support literacy development in deaf children. Currently, the Storybook App library features 18 different stories in ASL and English and several international editions, including Dutch, Russian, Italian and Japanese. VL2 Storybook Apps are available to download on iPads.

The ASL Literacy Activities also include a variety of curated resources to help deaf children and their families during this stay-at-home time, including explaining coronavirus to kids, ASL stories for kids, ASL literature by Deaf People of Color, important information on language development for deaf children, community-based and shared resources such as #OperationASLStorytime and #DeafEdAtHome, sample daily at-home schedules, and games and other free resources.

Motion Light Lab’s ASL Literacy Activities are part of Gallaudet University’s comprehensive bilingual response to Covid-19 to support and protect both the Gallaudet community and deaf children and their families. For more information about this and Gallaudet’s weekly Facebook Live Covid-19 town halls, please visit Gallaudet University.

“Deaf children face extraordinary challenges during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Dr. Laurene Simms, Gallaudet’s Chief Bilingual Officer. “This is even more true when their families do not know sign language. Gallaudet University is taking the lead by ensuring that deaf children across the nation receive daily activities in ASL and English.”

About ASL Literacy Activities and Motion Light Lab

ASL Literacy Activities is spearheaded by Gallaudet University's Motion Light Lab, a space where creative literature intersects with digital technology to create immersive learning experiences. Motion Light Lab is part of the National Science Foundation Science of Learning Center on Visual Language and Visual Learning.

Two easy steps to get started: Sign up for free here at ASL Literacy Activities and subscribe to Motion Light Lab’s YouTube Channel to access all live sessions and to catch any previous archived sessions.

About Gallaudet University

Gallaudet University, federally chartered in 1864, is a bilingual, diverse, multicultural institution of higher education that ensures the intellectual and professional advancement of deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing individuals through American Sign Language and English.

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