In a message dated 2/19/2008 11:52:41 P.M. Pacific Standard
Time, Lissa writes:
Do you have any idea what the ASL sign is for someone who is NOT deaf or hoh,
but is speech-impaired, (mute), as in functionally unable to speak, but can hear
and understand spoken language?
It is so frustrating not to be able to communicate with people without ASL,
written or typed English.. and yet, try to explain to people that you can HEAR.
Everyone, even other Deaf people, insist that because I can hear, I must be able
to speak, but simply refuse to. Or refuse to believe that I can hear.. As I have
overly sensitive hearing, it is painful when people start yelling at me in hopes
that I'll somehow understand them more clearly..
I have to wear special headphones that block out sound, but still allow me to
hear people's voices.. it involves a white noise generator.. so it looks like
i'm listening to music.. but I cannot speak.. and I cannot sign Deaf in relation
to myself, without causing immense confusion and disbelief.. sometimes even
So, yeah.. Is there a sign that says that I am not able to speak, but that i can
I have built a page for you. See below.
Update: The concept of "MUTE" has been reclaimed by a segment of the (hard core)
Deaf Community. Thus what once was considered an insult is no longer considered
an insult and instead has been used (by a small segment of ground breaking Deaf
signers) as a symbol of pride.
The sign for MUTE is done by (softly) hitting the lips with a palm-back
slightly-modified "A" hand. (I say slightly modified because the thumb is curled
just a bit and the fingertips are tucked in a bit -- but not enough to call it
an "S" hand.)
SPEECH: Move a "bent V" hand once or twice around the mouth in a circle.
IMPAIRED: Use the sign "INTERRUPT."
In the video I screwed up and did the version of this sign that is commonly labeled as
When I slow down and think about it logically I sign it as "interrupt" -- but when I sign
it without thinking about it I sign it as "bother."
I spelled it to my wife and asked her to sign it. She too signed "speech
impaired" using a double movement on "impaired." Weird eh?
Thus I reckon you are likely to
see it both ways. But I'll tell you, this whole sign gives me the spooks
because for many years now I've campaigned against using the term "Hearing
Impaired" and here I am showing you how to sign "Speech Impaired." Gee. I'll
have to ask some of my associates in the Speech Pathology Department at the
university to see if there is an emerging "politically correct" (or better yet,
"culturally" correct) phrase.
"I can't talk. I can hear."
The left hand (or non-dominant hand) stays put and doesn't intentionally move.
The right hand (or dominant hand) does all of the moving.
Bring the right hand downward as if striking the left index finger. (You
can either strike the finger or just barely miss the finger it means the same.)
Memory aid: Think of a small child reaching to touch a hot stove.
You might "whack" his finger with yours to keep him from touching it while
telling him not to because the stove is hot.
TALK: Use a "four" handshape. Move the hand backward twice --each
time tapping the index finger to your chin (just below your bottom lip).