Languages & Cultures

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Is American Sign Language Really a Language?

American Sign Language (ASL) was developed in the 1800s, and a significant Deaf community in the U.S. has used it ever since. ASL isn’t related to English, although it borrows from English — as many spoken [more…]

How to Understand Deaf Culture

Just like any other culture, the Deaf community has its own customs, beliefs, and arts that are passed down from generation to generation. The culture of the Deaf community isn’t arbitrary; it’s a system [more…]

How to Behave Politely when Hanging Out with Deaf Friends

In order to be comfortable in the Deaf community, you should be familiar with some of their customs and nuances. Here are some common Deaf customs you may encounter when spending time with Deaf friends [more…]

ASL: How to Make a Phone Call with a Teletype

The first teletype machine was invented in 1964 by a Deaf physicist named Robert Weitbrecht. With this invention, Weitbrecht opened up the world of tele-conversation to the Deaf. When people refer to teletype [more…]

ASL: How to Use a Relay Service to Make a Phone Call

A relay service is just that — a telephone service that relays information to a Deaf caller who doesn’t have or isn’t using a TTY telecommunications device. A toll-free number connects you to a TTY operator [more…]

ASL: How to Use a Tele-Interpreter for a Phone Call

Tele-interpreting, which utilizes the help of American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, is still a reliable form of communication even though it isn’t as common as it used to be. Tele-interpreting continues [more…]

How to Pick Up American Sign Language Quickly

Using American Sign Language (ASL) with your Deaf friends is easy. You have natural signs and gestures to make your point, but you need to practice to really become proficient. Here are some of the things [more…]

ASL: How to Sign the Alphabet

American Sign Language (ASL) signers use the manual alphabet all the time, especially beginners. People’s names, at first, and some words need to be fingerspelled [more…]

How to Distinguish between Nouns and Verbs in American Sign Language

Some nouns and verbs in American Sign Language (ASL) share the same handshapes. You distinguish the part of speech by signing the motion once if it’s a verb and twice if it’s a noun. Although most nouns [more…]

How to Express Adjectives and Adverbs in American Sign Language

In English, a modifier can come before or after the word it’s modifying. However, in American Sign Language (ASL), you typically place the adjective or adverb — the modifier — after the word that it modifies [more…]

How to Use Tenses in American Sign Language

To communicate tenses in American Sign Language (ASL), you need your hands and your body. Think of your body as being in the present tense. Showing tense in ASL is partly a matter of where you sign in [more…]

How to Structure Sentences in American Sign Language

In American Sign Language (ASL), you can choose to assemble the words in your sentence in different orders, depending on the content of your dialogue. Some sentences should be signed in a natural English [more…]

ASL: How to Sign Numbers

How to sign cardinal (counting) and ordinal (ordering) numbers will get you through everyday situations. When you want to specify that there’s more than one item — plural — you sign the item first, followed [more…]

How to Start a Conversation in American Sign Language

Most people who learn American Sign Language (ASL) look forward to signing with others. Attending functions with other Signers gives ample opportunity to practice. At Deaf functions, signed conversation [more…]

ASL: How to Sign Locations

You may need to know how to describe a particular location when using American Sign Language (ASL), whether that location is a country, state, city, or part of the landscape. [more…]

How to Ask Questions in American Sign Language

When you want to ask a question in American Sign Language (ASL), you simply sign the question word at the end of the sentence — words such as who, what, when, where, which, why, and how. [more…]

ASL: How to Sign about Your Family Members

If you want to share information about your family by using American Sign Language (ASL), you need to know a few signs. Describing your family is one way to tell someone about yourself. Using the common [more…]

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 [more…]

ASL: How to Sign about Occupations

When sharing info through American Sign Language (ASL) about your profession, be it your job title or what your job entails, you can usually use signs specific to that job or function. This table lists [more…]

How to Express Possessives and Pronouns in American Sign Language

Using pronouns in American Sign Language (ASL) is the same as in English; you need to refer to a noun before you use a pronoun. You may also use possessives during your Sign conversation. Show possession [more…]

ASL: How to Sign about Utensils and Dishes

When you’re lucky enough to get an invitation to join other signers for a meal, take along these signs to get you through the event. The following table gives you the sign for everything you’ll see on [more…]

How to Discuss Meals with American Sign Language

Whether you're going to have breakfast, lunch, or dinner with friends who use American Sign Language (ASL), you need to know a few signs about your meal. And don't forget to thank your host or hostess [more…]

How to Discuss Dining Out with American Sign Language

Everyone enjoys going out to restaurants from time to time, including members of the Deaf community. Familiarize yourself with the signs related to dining out, as well as the signs for certain types of [more…]

How to Use Shopping-Related American Sign Language

Shopping made simple — that’s what you’ll find when you do it in American Sign Language (ASL). After you know how to sign the store you want to visit and the deals you're looking for, the rest is a breeze [more…]

ASL: How to Sign about Clothing

These American Sign Language (ASL) signs show you the basics for all your clothing needs. Wear is signed the same as use, so don’t worry that they look the same. [more…]

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