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The lack of a written representation for American sign language (ASL) makes it difficult to do something as commonplace as looking up an unknown word in a dictionary. The majority of printed dictionaries organize ASL signs (represented in drawings or pictures) based on their nearest English translation; so unless one already knows the meaning of a sign, dictionary look-up is not a simple proposition. In this paper we introduce the ASL lexicon video dataset, a large and expanding public dataset containing video sequences of thousands of distinct ASL signs, as well as annotations of those sequences, including start/end frames and class label of every sign. This dataset is being created as part of a project to develop a computer vision system that allows users to look up the meaning of an ASL sign. At the same time, the dataset can be useful for benchmarking a variety of computer vision and machine learning methods designed for learning and/or indexing a large number of visual classes, and especially approaches for analyzing gestures and human communication.