Monday 14 January 2013

#readitmummiesanddaddies2013 - Signed Stories Guest Blog Post - a whole new way of storytelling on smart devices.

At Read It Daddy we've taken a look at the innovative 'Signed Stories' app for iPad previously but we thought we'd let the Signed Stories team guest on our blog as part of our #Readitmummiesanddaddies2013 campaign. As more and more parents and children start to use storytelling apps, and the potential for reaching parents who can't read to their kids is realised, apps like this become vital to extending the book world into the technological one. 

Over to you, Signed Stories Folk!

Keith on the Signed Stories App telling the story of 'The Three Little Pigs'

Mobile devices like the iPad and iPhone are opening up huge opportunities for accessibility and inclusion for children who are so often excluded from fun and important childhood activities.
I probably don’t need to tell readers of this blog how important reading is to children, whether it’s sharing stories and adventures with friends and family, curling up with mum and dad at bedtime or learning words at school.
But what you might not realise is how many deaf children miss out on these experiences because stories are not readily available in sign language, and for many deaf children English is their second language.
Official attainment figures make for grim reading - only a third of deaf children achieve five GCSE grades A-C compared with 60% of hearing children, and poor literacy is a huge factor in this.
iPads are perfect for presenting visual information like sign language - and you can see how amazing our Signed Stories look on the iPad. Although of course they’re amazing on the website too (!) it’s the device that enables us to do so much more with it - the sign language and subtitles can be turned on and off and the subtitles can be customised to make them easier to read. And we’ve extended the stories with two interactive games that reinforce the sign language and a sign language dictionary to help children and adults learn new signs.
But the real inclusion opportunities come because the iPad is a cool device, and using it doesn’t mark children as different.
All the stories on our app are also told with voiceover and with subtitles meaning that all children can use the same app on the same device, creating positive shared experiences within the family and between classmates.
And of course sign language is not just for deaf children. I recently spent time with a five-year-old boy with limited speech because of cerebral palsy and his family, who are just starting to use sign language as a means of communication. I watched him tell his sister he was thirsty - one of the first times in his life, his mum said, that he had initiated communication.

Peter on the Signed Stories app (we know this face all too well!)
Apps like Signed Stories are raising the profile of sign language and enabling people who have never considered the benefits of sign language to easily get access to it. For example, hearing children with no special needs can benefit from learning to sign - it develops motor skills and helps them become confident communicators using body language and facial expressions and can help improve IQ. And also it’s fun - just look at how Peter/Keith brings this story to life!
The Signed Stories app is free to download from the App Store (iPad, iPhone and iPod touch) with one free book ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff’, two interactive games and ten words in the dictionary.
Click here if you’re in the UK:
Click here if you’re in the USA/Canada: