How Can Churches and Other Organizations Be More Accessible to People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing?
How Does American Sign Language Work?
- Hundreds of sign languages exist. American Sign Language is the dominant sign language in the United States.
- ASL consists of an alphabet, conveyed through fingerspelling and hand signs. Many signs are iconic, which mean the sign creates a visual image of the word it represents.
- Meaning is communicated through facial expression. Look at the speaker’s eyes when they are signing, and use your peripheral vision to pick up the hand signs.
- Facial expressions also provide punctuation.
- In ASL, quality of motion helps to communicate the richness and depth of language, which are elements that pitch, tone, and volume communicate in heard language.
- Signs close to the body indicate something that happened recently or will happen soon. Signs far from the body indicate longer ago or further in the future.