Appropriate Use of Space for ASL Communication
LKS Ventures, LLC
Interest in learning American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate with the deaf population has grown tremendously. This interest is very desirable. However, we must be aware that just like spoken languages have rules for successful communication, so does ASL.
For those of you who are in the process of learning ASL, especially if you're self-taught, it's very important to familiarize yourself with the appropriate signing location for communicating with deaf individuals.
Whether you're practicing your new signing skill with a family member, another student, roommate, neighbor, friend, or attempting to have a conversation with a deaf person, you'd be wise to establish your signing space for better results.
Following are a few basic tips to help you define your appropriate signing space.
Length: from your waist, go upwards about three inches above your head
Depth: twelve inches in front of your body
Width: six to eight inches outward from your arms
Try to imagine that you're in a photo frame that extends three inches above your head, stops at your belt line, and expands about eight inches away from your arms. Of course, depending on your physical size these approximations will vary slightly.
If you really want to improve your ASL communication, look for opportunities to watch deaf people sign and you'll become familiar with the appropriate signing area a whole lot faster!
An important aside: Please note that the above signing space tips are general numerical approximations for an everyday conversation. Be advised that for children's storytelling, theatrical performances such as concerts or plays, this signing space will increase greatly.
Krystalina Soash is a freelance writer and interpreter. Her published works include, "Writing Tips for Student Projects and New Freelance Writers" and "Your Positive Potential: Action Steps for Self-Empowerment". You may visit Krystalina at Writing For You Now