How This Works

A GUIDE for READING SIGNS

ASL (American Sign Language) is a visual language -- you see it instead of hear it. The SignWriting script is a way to keep the vibrance and complexity of ASL recorded as easily as any other written language. To briefly explain how this works:

This represents your face -- as if you are looking straight ahead.

Here's a smiling face, and a flat hand signing "hello".

Starting with both flat hands together, they now will "open". White part of hands shows the palms
(darker side = top of hand, the part that gets a suntan).

This is the sign for "book".

(*See how much you've learned already -- you're on your way to becoming an expert…)

Most of the time, sign language is written vertically, almost like a movie film. That's why the sign for "book" is written this way. A few more intros --

If you make a fist, see that it resembles a square. This again shows the back, or suntanned side of your fist.

This is the same fist, but shows the other side (palm side).

(Why is this important? Because most handshapes are variations of a flat hand or a fist.)

More of these later -- symbols showing movement, contact, inflection…anything important in a sign can be written. All sign languages can be written, in every country across the globe.

For complete lessons in how to read sign languages in the SignWriting script, please visit the website www.SignWriting.org/lessons.

For more about the SignWriting organization, and how you can help, please visit www.SignWriting.org.

Or write to:

Nancy Romero
romero@signwriting.org


Valerie Sutton
sutton@signwriting.org

 
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