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American Sign Language:  One-handed signing
Also See "Right or left handed signing"

In a message dated 2/8/2006 8:19:41 PM Pacific Standard Time, lkpinette@ .net writes:
Hello, I'm a student in Western Massachusetts.
...
I'm right-handed in most regards, but I've found that it's easier for me to use my left hand for one-handed signs.

I had some tests run on me (I have Asperger's Syndrome, which apparently makes me an interesting study subject). I for my part study neurotypicals without the aid of tests and while I complete almost all tasks with my right hand, there are a few involving gross-motor skills which I do with my left.  I can only think that perhaps my body perceives sign language as being less complex a matter than holding a pencil.

So, ...is it acceptable to use my left hand for one-handed signs, for all that I'm right handed?

Thanks,
Peace, Truth, Liberty, and Justice,
Luke

Hey Luke,
No one in the Deaf community is going to "slug" you for signing one-handed signs with your left hand (even though you are right handed).
We will notice it in the back of our mind as a small bit of communication static, but we will understand you just fine.
The only one's who will mention it to you are ASL teachers, "interpreter trainers," or self-appointed ASL-police officers.
My advice would be to work on consistency and do not toggle back and forth.  If you are going to do one handed signs with your left hand, fine...just do ALL one-handed signs with your left hand. Sign left-hand dominant. Fingerspell left-handed too.
Cordially,
Dr. Bill


In a message dated 2/17/2012 9:14:54 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, murphyanne7 writes:

Hi Dr. Bill!
I have an 8-month old deaf puppy and your site has been tremendously helpful in developing signs to use with him! I use many ASL signs (slightly modified to be one-handed, since I am usually holding a leash), and some I have just made up. I have two questions for you...

First, does the meaning of a sign change if you only use one hand? For instance, when signing "play", "ball", or "leash", I only use one hand. Am I actually saying something else?

Also, I have a made-up sign that I use to mean "go here", as in get in your crate, go into the backseat, go lay down on that mat, etc. I use the letter "H" and shake my hand twice while pointing at wherever I want him to go. Does this mean something in ASL? Just wondered if I am inadvertently telling him that he smells like an old boot or something.

Thanks for your input!
- Anne (and Alfie)

Anne,
Doing a sign "one handed" generally doesn't change the meaning of a sign.
Sometimes it makes the sign a bit "less recognizable" but it still means the same.
We Deaf commonly sign one handed when our other hand is full.
Your "H" hand pointing gesture doesn't conflict with anything in ASL. It reminds me of the statue of Walt Disney pointing with an "H" hand at Disneyland. It is done with two fingers on purpose so as to not offend those cultures which are offended by pointing with an index finger.
-- Dr. Bill


Also See: One handed signing (1)
Also See "Right or left handed signing"


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