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article imageThe Blue Lobster: New interactive ASL bilingual storybook app Special

By Lesley Lanir     Oct 23, 2014 in Technology
Washington - The Blue Lobster storybook for iPad is the first early reader app designed for young children ages three and up that also helps young deaf children acquire ASL and reading skills.
Gallaudet University and the National Science Foundation's Science of Learning Center on Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2) have released the first early reader app for bilinguals and deaf children, The Blue Lobster.
Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto, co-principal investigator and science director of VL2, says that she knows no other bilingual interactive app for the young deaf child just beginning to read in the world.
Similar to VL2’s previous apps, The Baobab and The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf, The Blue Lobster is an interactive storybook. It showcases a real person using sign language, animation, and accompanying English text with features that allow children to move from printed English words to an ASL and spoken English glossary.
Digital Journal contacted Melissa Malzkuhn, VL2's Digital Innovation & Media Strategies Manager, and lead creator of the app, to find out more.
You have launched two previous storybook apps, why did you choose this story?
Melissa Malzkuhn
Melissa Malzkuhn
M. Malzkuhn
It started with a visit to the National Aquarium in DC (now closed) where I learned about a rare blue lobster - it's a genetic mutation - one in every two million lobsters are blue!
Since we are already looking how to continue the Baobab series, with our curious little adventurer, it made complete sense to add different quests searching for something special and rare.
Is The Blue Lobster different from the previous apps?
Now, the difference about The Blue Lobster as compared to The Baobab, our first award winning storybook app, is that the story is geared for younger readers, so we focused on colors and animals and our sentences were structured more simply
The Blue Lobster - iPad App -
The Blue Lobster - iPad App -
Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2) at Gallaudet University
Who is in the development team?
It was wonderful to reunite the same award winning team from The Baobab to make this story, with the ever so talented storyteller, April Jackson-Woodard, who is also a professional actress, and our artist-in residence, Yiqiao Wang.
How successful have the previous apps been?
The Baobab and our second app, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, have gotten great reviews, community feedback and support. We've gotten requests for "more storybooks, please" from schools all over the nation. We've received international interest for translations in other sign languages and we are now, in fact, collaborating with Norway to develop a Norwegian Edition of The Baobab.
Do you have future developments in the pipeline?
Yes! We have two more storybook apps in the pipeline. The next one set to launch is about our Solar System; it's led by an undergraduate student, and gives a fun educational tour through our solar system. So The Solar System is an educational storybook app for ages 7 and up, is expected to be released in late October.
The other app is called The Little Airplane That Could. It's a creative adaptation of the book The Little Engine That Could.
The Blue Lobster - iPad App.
The Blue Lobster - iPad App.
Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2) at Gallaudet University
We are also set to launch an Android version of The Baobab very soon, with more to follow for each apps. We want children to have access to the stories regardless of which tablets their parents have, so that's the motivation behind developing for Android.
You can find The Blue Lobster on the Apple iTunes store along with The Baobab and The Boy Who Cried Wolf.
More about American Sign Language ASL, deaf children, ipad app, storybook, Blue lobster
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