Handshape: index finger Location:
Starting location: On the cheek near the ear.
Ending location: On the
cheek near the mouth.
Note: Many people do the opposite. They start near the mouth and end
near the ear.
Note: Sometimes the sign DEAF only makes "one" contact with the cheek.
For example, during high speed signing of the phrase "Deaf Community."
Orientation: If done with the right hand, the right palm can face either left or somewhat forward. Movement: Small arc.
Variation: If you do this sign while puffing out the cheek, with a
larger arc it means, "Deaf, and proud of it!"
Description: Touch your finger on your cheek near your ear, then move your
finger in a small arch and touch it near the mouth. Remember, start and end
the sign on the cheek. Do not do it on the ear or mouth, but rather near
Are you Deaf? = "DEAF YOU?" [eyebrows raised]
Note: In this picture I'm touching the tip of my finger to my cheek.
Another common method is to touch the side of the index finger to the cheek
instead of using the tip of the finger.
The typical sign DEAF moves an index finger from near the ear to near the mouth.
You can also move it from near the mouth to near the ear. It is
commonly done either way in the Deaf Community. But in general I do it from
near the ear to near the mouth. If you actually touch the ear and/or
place the finger "on" the mouth or lips it would be a "non-standard" way of
signing Deaf. (Sort of like "over pronouncing" it. While that might be appropriate for some circumstances
in which you intentionally wish to exaggerate this sign -- it would not be
appropriate for everyday conversation to actually touch the ear or the lips
with the finger. Instead you should just touch the cheek near the ear
and the cheek near the mouth. In faster more skillful signing, the
movement tends to be very short.
version, not recommended)
Here is old way to sign Deaf. It combines the signs for EAR and
CLOSED. This sign has been around for many years. I noticed some
scuttlebutt a while back about this sign being out of favor in the Deaf
Community because it portrays Deaf as being "disabled."
Personally, I think the reason why the sign isn't being used much any more is
because it takes more effort to do a two handed sign than a one handed
In any case, you still might see the sign used during "platform
interpreting" (interpreting done on a stage or for a large audience) or done
by an older person. You might also see it used during very formal speeches.
In the above example you point to or touch the ear and then move straight
into the modified "closed" sign. (You do not point at the mouth.)