ITV launches world’s first children’s storybook app with sign language
ITV is launching the world’s first animated storybook app with British and American Sign Language to make reading fun for all children.
The Signed Stories app – initially for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch – is fully accessible in sign language, subtitles, narration, animation and music.
Ideal for deaf children, it will also make books easier to read for children with special educational needs, including autism, Asperger’s and dyslexia and Down’s Syndrome.
In a partnership with leading children’s publishers, ITV is creating digital versions of a wide range of award-winning picture books from leading authors and illustrators worldwide.
“ITV is proud to be creating something which every child can use – an English language app which is totally accessible. Too often deaf children and those with special needs get left behind,” said ITV’s chief executive Adam Crozier.
“Anytime, anyplace viewing is becoming the norm and we believe all children should be able to enjoy the mobile digital world. We’re a global brand. The American version is a response to requests from the deaf community in the USA for access to children’s books in its own sign language.”
Children can customise the app which on its first release features contemporary stories, updated folktales and fairytales exclusively from international book publisher Child’s Play.
“In 2008, we embraced wholeheartedly the opportunity to work with the Signed Stories website, and we’re delighted and honoured to be chosen by ITV as their launch partner for this exciting new venture,” said Neil Burden, publisher and CEO at Child’s Play.
“These apps continue and further our attempts to make our publishing as accessible and inclusive as possible. They stand out from the myriad of book-based apps currently published for children in that they have manifestly useful and engaging content, outstanding production values and, perhaps most of all, genuine purpose.”
All books – suitable for early years and primary school children – are individually priced, housed in a free app available through Apple’s App Store.
It will offer a free book, a new version of The Three Billy Goats Gruff and also comes with a free BSL or ASL video dictionary, which grows every time a new book is downloaded. The iPad app also carries free games inside each story downloaded.
Parents, carers and teachers will benefit from guidance notes in the app on how to get the most out of each book.
The Signed Stories brand was originally launched in 2008 as a free website supported by a host of celebrities including Dame Helen Mirren, Joanna Lumley, Robbie Coltrane and Zoe Wanamaker.
Backed by the UK Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson, it’s already won awards from the Royal Television Society, the National Literacy Trust, RADAR, the Plain English Campaign and the UK IT Industry for its work on inclusion. It has attracted viewers from over 100 countries.
It’s also grown into a successful television series currently screening on CITV – the only children’s programme on TV in the UK with a deaf presenter.
Two of the USA’s leading ASL storytellers – Keith Wann and Peter Cook – present the stories for the North American market, which includes English-speaking regions of Canada.
The app was user tested by deaf children, children with special educational needs and parents before its launch. It was produced by ITV SignPost, the company’s specialist sign language production house in Gateshead, and designed by Newcastle-based media company Komodo Digital.
Download the FREE Signed Stories app from iTunes here.