ASL: How to Relate Where You Live and Work

Giving others information about your workplace and home by using American Sign Language (ASL) is easy — but be careful because many other eyes can see what you sign. Exchanging addresses and phone numbers is a great way to make friends with other signers. Asking for repeats is okay; everyone does it in both English and Sign. You fingerspell most of this information:

  • Cities and towns: Prominent cities may have name signs. For less prominent cities and towns, fingerspell the name. Quite often, you sign cities that have two-word names by using the first letter of each word.

  • Zip codes: You sign zip codes with your palm facing outward. Sign all five numbers in succession.

  • Street addresses: Sign street addresses by fingerspelling the street name and then signing the house number — keeping your palm facing the addressee. You can abbreviate the following:

    • Avenue: A-V-E

    • Circle: C-R

    • Drive: D-R

    • Street: S-T

    • Apartment: A-P-T

    • Way: W-Y

  • Phone numbers: When you sign phone numbers, all numbers face the addressee — outward. If you’re not sure that the information you’re giving is clear, sign an area code by making parentheses with both index fingers and then signing the numbers. More often, though, area codes don’t require the parentheses, just sign L-D (for long distance) before you give the number.

    Signing the suffix part of phone numbers doesn’t follow any set rule. Some people fingerspell all four numbers in succession while others break it up into two sets of two numbers. For instance, if the last four numbers of a phone number are 1212, you can sign them as 1, 2, 1, 2 or 12, 12. You don’t need to worry about putting a hyphen between the numbers like you would if you were writing the number down.

The signs in this table may help you describe your address and phone number information, too.

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