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The Gallaudet University National Science Foundation-funded Science of Learning Center on Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2) is pleased to announce the release of its much-anticipated second bilingual storybook app for the iPad, The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf storybook app is designed to facilitate language acquisition and reading in young children and is especially relevant to the young deaf visual learner. The app puts a new spin on a classic children’s story and offers an enticing bilingual language, learning, and reading experience.

“This storybook app will delight both children and adults with the its brilliant illustrations and cinematic American Sign Language (ASL) storytelling by a talented native deaf signer,” said Melissa Malzkuhn, Digital Innovation and Media Strategies Manager for VL2, who led the development of this app. “The main goal in developing this app is to encourage literacy in children, and to establish a wonderful ASL model for adults, particularly hearing parents of deaf children.”

Created by an all-deaf team, the majority of whom are Gallaudet alumni, this story revisits a classic fable about a boy who fools the townspeople in his village but then learns a lesson in the end. With a fascinating interplay between a real person using sign language and eye-catching animations, the app showcases ASL storytelling at its finest.

The story includes accompanying English text, an interactive feature that brings children from printed English words to an ASL and spoken English glossary of over 160 signs. The app includes stunning acrylic on canvas illustrations by deaf Canadian artist Pamela Witcher. The narrator, Justin Jackerson, received his Bachelor of Arts in American Sign Language and Master of Arts in Sign Language Teaching from Gallaudet.

The first storybook app developed by VL2, The Baobab, was released last year. The VL2 storybook apps are unique because they are built upon findings of extensive research done on both hearing and deaf bilinguals.

“Research conducted by VL2 demonstrates that early visual language experience with ASL powerfully facilitates the acquisition of learning to read in English and offers other far-reaching advantages for a deaf child’s linguistic, communicative, cognitive, academic, literacy, and psychosocial development,” said Dr. Thomas Allen, Co-Principal Investigator of VL2.

“Deaf children who are exposed to examples of extended use of sign language, such as stories, are presented with opportunities to develop potential cognitive flexibility and metalinguistic abilities that ultimately facilitate the development of English literacy skills,” said Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto, Co-Principal Investigator and Science Director of VL2.

“Early exposure to fingerspelling helps children become better readers as it enriches and promotes strengths in English vocabulary growth as well as ASL. Remarkably, both languages are advantaged!”

“The Boy Who Cried Wolf is a fantastic app that can be used by teachers to promote bilingual development in classrooms and parents who can read with their children at home,” said Dr. Melissa Herzig, VL2 Education and Research Translation Manager.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf is currently available for $4.99. Click here to purchase. The Baobab can also be purchased for $4.99. More apps are currently in development including, The Little Airplane That Could and The Blue Lobster, a primer reading app for younger children.

In February, The Baobab was selected as the second prize winner of the DEVICE Design Award 2014 – Professional Category.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant number SBE-1041725. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2) is a Science of Learning in the United States, funded by the National Science Foundation, and is based at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. VL2 is a collaborative effort with more than 15 labs nationwide, all interested in the visual learning process. We seek to understand more about how learning through visual processes, visual language, and visually based social experience contributes to the development of language, reading, literacy, and in ways that provide fascinating cognitive and linguistic advantages to the young visual learner. We seek this knowledge for the benefit of all humans.

Gallaudet University, federally chartered in 1864, is a bilingual, diverse, multicultural institution of higher education that ensures the intellectual and professional advancement of deaf and hard of hearing individuals through American Sign Language and English. Gallaudet maintains a proud tradition of research and scholarly activity and prepares its graduates for career opportunities in a highly competitive, technological, and rapidly changing world.

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