The Wrong Finger

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Photo CC-By Phil Robinson

Learning ASL is definitely something new to me and has been exciting. Throughout this experience of learning sign language I am already facing challenges. I realized a little ways into my second lesson that I accidentally skipped an important part to signing, fingerspelling and counting. Fingerspelling actually occurs more frequently in signing than you would think, as there isn’t a definite sign to every word in the English language. People who use ASL use fingerspelling to sign specific things like names, places, brands, etc. When introduced into a deaf community, however, one could receive a name sign. This sign would be used whenever someone is referring to you. I learned that a deaf person has to be the one to give you a name sign, which to me sounds pretty cool. You would then use this sign to introduce yourself to other deaf or ASL speakers.

Learning to finger spell obviously meant I would have to learn the ASL alphabet. I have seen this chart a handful of time and would try to spell my name just for the fun of it. When looking at the entire alphabet and attempting to match the sign was a lot different than just doing it for fun. We have a lot of letters. After going through the alphabet the first time I realized how amazing it is that all of the letters can be signed on just one hand. There are so many different ways we can move our hands and I never really noticed until I started using them as a way of communicating. I struggled going through the letters the first time, just trying to adjust my hand in certain ways. I would try to match the sign, thinking I know where each of my fingers are after having them for 20 years, but I would be off or using an entirely different finger. It was a lot more complicated than I thought. I then questioned myself of whether or not my sign looked right. I wished many time through this lesson that I had a deaf person with me to help with adjustments and such. I became very frustrated with this lesson. It is one thing to learn the letters, but this lesson tries to get the learner to memorize each sign and be able to quickly recognize each letter sign. When first learning, this is very difficult because a slight alteration can be something completely different. This lesson had taken up most of my time and I am still trying to get it right. I did manage to learn to sign my name and I see that as an accomplishment. I know that I will have to keep practicing to finger spell but I will not give up.

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4 thoughts on “The Wrong Finger

  1. I think you’re making great progress! From the experience that I’ve had with deaf people I know where you’re coming from. One slip of a finger and you’re signing something absurd. There are so many little things to catch onto. But you can do it! 🙂

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  2. I really think this is a good ILP. I can see where it would be difficult to teach yourself this and have to learn to correct yourself. Once you get it down though you can teach students the basics so they can communicate other ways.

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