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Masks and ASL:
Sign language usage during pandemics:
The wearing of a cloth mask obscures visibility of the lower face and prevents observers from making use of the cues and clues normally used to help understand a signer's intended meaning.
To compensate for wearing a mask during signing:
1. Be knowledgeable about conscious of your use of multiple-meaning signs. When the concept you wish to express is normally signed via a multiple meaning sign that is commonly accompanied by mouthing or a mouth morpheme you should either use an alternate sign or add fingerspelling when first using the concept in a particular conversation.
2. If you are still learning ASL then often you will not be able to make knowledgeable decisions regarding which signs do or don't have multiple meanings and will instead need to watch your conversation partner carefully for confused looks (and then clarify more) or ask questions to verify that the person understood you. You may need to "over communicate" to make sure you are not miscommunicating. For example you may need to sign the same concept in two or more different ways.
3. Ask questions of your communication partner to determine whether or not they understood you.
4. If you partner's responses seem odd or to not make sense do not assume they are just being funny or weird. Instead consider the possibility that they interpreted one of your multiple-meaning signs differently than you intended.
5. Consider purchasing a see-through mask or instead use a see-through face shield. If you are an interpreter make sure you use a see through mask when communicating with clients.
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