There are many "rules" when it comes to using sign language. Below is a list of some of these rules that will help out beginners.
1. Understand the concept of "signing space".
When engaging in a verbal conversation, people mainly focus on the face and hands to understand what is being said. Body language is also key. American Sign Language works the same way. Most of the signs in sign language are done in a "signing space," which which includes the signer's head and chest and extends about twelve inches to the left and right. This signing space allows the "listener" to see the signs and facial expressions without having to concentrate on an entirely different area.
2. Make sure that you are dressed appropriately.
In every day conversation clothing is not one of the things that obstructs a conversation. However, with sign language, the movement of a person's hand can become misinterpreted or hard to see if they are wearing the wrong type of clothing. For example, wearing a bright shirt, a shirt of multiple colors, or clothing with designs can be very distracting to the "listener". The shirt color you choose should depends on your skin color. People with lighter skin should wear dark colors such as black, brown or navy. People with darker skin should wear lighter colors such as white, tan, or light pink. All shirts should be a solid color. Also, the shirts should have a high neckline, as to help prevent further distractions.
3. The signing process.
When approaching someone that is deaf, it is proper etiquette to tap them on the shoulder to get their attention. It is considered rude if you move your hand in front of your face, stomp or push them. Once you have their attention it is important to stay relatively close to them so that they can see the signs clearly and do not have to struggle to see your facial expressions. At the end of a conversation, many deaf individuals, even if they have only met each other once for a couple of minutes, find it customary to hug. Don't be embarrassed to say things such as "talk to you later" because deaf individuals talk, just with their hands.[Home] [History] [Etiquette] [Facial Expressions] [Letters] [Phrases] [Citations]