A publisher has recently attempted to bring the children’s book title “Danny the Dragon Meets Jimmy” to the deaf by offering it in sign language for hearing impaired children. The book is available as a $3 app and offers three different versions: one where children can read themselves, one as an audio book narrated by a voice, and a final version with sign language where a woman stands on the side of the screen and signs the text with the book size being reduced on the screen.
According to the New York Times, “The signed version is actually a QuickTime movie, which can be paused by the user. The woman signing stands against a black background, her movements flowing flawlessly as the book is read aloud by an off-camera narrator.”
The app is a good first step, though hasn’t fully exploited the multimedia and interactive potential of the emerging tablet space that’s now dominated by Apple. For instance, there are no sound effects throughout the book, save for the first opening page where the sound of the ocean greets the users, and users cannot change the voice of the narrator. Additionally, once a reader exits the book, unlike traditional books, you can’t bookmark the page and resume where you left off.
Despite some of these potential flaws, the book demonstrates great potential and can be a great learning tool for children with disabilities. By giving text voice and illuminating the written page with sign language, publishers can now target the hearing or seeing impaired.