What is SignDict?

This project is an open sign language dictionary. Is there a sign missing, or do you know another sign for the word? Record and add it with one click. The only thing you need for this is your own webcam.

This project is funded by the Prototype Fund. Development started on March 1, 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 will raise awareness of sign language in public spaces.

Why do we need this?

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

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

This led to the idea of crowdsourcing the dictionary. Everyone can participate and add a sign. Most computers nowadays have a webcam with a high enough 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. In the beginning the dictionary will only be equipped for German sign language (DGS), but we will add more languages as we grow.

Why are you building this?

(Photo by Carolin Weinkopf)

I am a CODA, a child of deaf adults. From the moment I first saw an online video, I started dreaming of a service like this one. 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 yet good enough to build the type of application that I wanted. Luckily, those problems have since been solved and I can start building SignDict.


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 in the 1st round of the Prototype Fund.

SignDict is not commercial. Thanks to the support of many humans and companies we can cover the costs for the server and video hosting. Should we ever make a profit, it will be donated.