What is SignDict?

This project will be an open sign language dictionary. A sign missing, or you know another sign for the word? Record and add it with one click.

This project is funded by the Prototype Fund. Start of development is the 1st of March 2017.

Who is the target audience?

This dictionary is aimed at people already fluent and to learners. It will be a dictionary and learning aid and wants to raise the awareness of sign language in the public space.

Why do we need this?

The goal is to create the first interactive sign language dictionary in which everyone can participate in without any technical knowledge.

If you search for online sign language dictionaries, you will find lots of them. Sadly most have a few hundred words and don’t allow to add new signs. Additionally only a few show more than one sign for a word. I want to try to have as many sign variations for a word as possible.

This lead to the idea to crowdsource the dictionary. Everyone can participate and add a sign. Most computers nowadays have a webcam with a quality that is sufficient to record sign language. Together we as the sign language community can build an interactive dictionary. One that has as many signs as possible. At the beginning the dictionary will only have the german sign language (DGS), but we will add more languages as we grow.

Why do you build this?

(Photo by Carolin Weinkopf)

I am a CODA, a child of deaf adults. Since I started to see videos appear online, I was dreaming of a service like this. In 2013 I wrote a proof of concept with a few friends during a hackathon. One of the learnings back then was that the web technology was not good enough at that time to do it as good as I wanted. Luckily those problems are solved now and I can start building it.


Every video will be licensed under a Creative Commons license and the code running the website will be licensed under the MPL.


Thanks to the Prototype Fund, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and their jury for selecting this project as a finalist of the 1st round of the Prototype Fund.