As we begin this fingerspelling journey, we can take to heart Socrates words, “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” What is your motivation for wanting to improve your fingerspelling skills? Is it that you tire of missing the lightning fast words flying off your Deaf friend’s hands while they giggle and poke fun? Are you sick of feeling the clutch in your gut when the word Saskatchewan comes up in conversation? Maybe you’re an awful speller and letters do a little dance in your head. There’s a common theme in almost all these examples—tension! We’ll get to talking about tension a bit later. But for now, let’s get to knowing thyself and spend some time with your motivation to improve your fingerspelling. There are two helpful perspectives that might drive your goals for this class:
1) Clarity – you may wish to improve your readability, smooth out the finger tangles. How do you do this?
Mindful Tip 1: Consciously (i.e. mindfully) move your palm orientation to the side to naturally emphasize the shape of your letters.
o Letters in which this can be done and still maintain conformity with ASL are: C, D, F, G, H, K, O, P, Q, X
- These 10 letters are almost 40% of the manual alphabet letters so...being mindful of your palm orientation is paramount to pull this off with success!
Why would you want to sign with the purpose of clarity or readability? Perhaps your goal is to be in the field of education or you work with children and they are just becoming familiar with the English language, or...perhaps you like to take it slow and chill when you’re chatting with your ASL using friends
2) Speed – you may wish to improve your ability to go fast. Now, before we go any further, here is a rule of thumb that brings us to another tip...
Mindful Tip 2: Never, ever, ever, never compromise clarity for speed.
Stop, please and say the italicized aloud to yourself three times. Never compromise clarity for speed can become a kind of mantra that each time you say it, waters the seeds of clarity in your beautiful brain!
Mindful Tip 3: For speed, consciously (i.e. mindfully) keep your palm orientation always pointed outward.
Palm facing out eliminates all movement and allows the hand to stay still, steady, and unmoving with no wasted effort. This translates to speed and ease of letters transitioning one to the other.
o Letters in which this can be done and still maintain conformity with ASL are same as the above: C, D, F, G, H, K, O, P, Q, X
- Again, much of the ASL manual alphabet can be signed with the palm orientation unmoving, however, clarity of each letter will go down.