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Deaf Studies and Sign Language Glossary:
American Sign Language (ASL) Terminology and Definitions
Terms related to people who are Deaf
Language evolves. Cultures and societies evolve. Terminology evolves. This glossary is an effort to define terms for those interested or involved in Deaf Studies and/or Sign Language Studies. This glossary is a group effort. Some of the many contributors or sources are listed near the end of the page. I take responsibility for any errors in this list. If you feel that a particular definition needs updating or that another entry should be added, feel free to contact me.
- William Vicars, Ed.D. (aka: "Dr. Bill")
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There is no such thing as a typical d/Deaf person.
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Deaf (spelled with a capital D)
Those who are profoundly Deaf or have various levels of residual hearing who also:
a) use American Sign Language (ASL) as a cherished, primary language
b) are proud members of the Deaf community who respect and adhere to the beliefs, norms, values and expectations of that community
c) are entrenched in the Deaf culture and adhere to Deaf cultural norms, traditions, beliefs, values and ways of being
d) share ideas about their connection to and affiliation with the greater society, the populace statewide, nationwide and worldwide
e) have a strong, positive Deaf-identity meaning they a) value their personal existence (their Deafhood - see below), b) value the Deaf Community, locally, statewide and worldwide; c) value the Deaf culture (past, present and future), and d) value ASL and all things related to the above a-d items
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A Deaf Zone: A space or place where everyone present is expected (out of respect) to use American Sign Language rather than speaking English or any other spoken language. It is also where the behaviors, expectations and standards of the Deaf community and Deaf culture prevail. These expectations apply to all Deaf, deaf and hearing people who enter a Deaf zone, regardless the individual's degree of skill with ASL. Examples of Deaf zones would be: A club for the Deaf, a space in a place of worship (or a place of worship) which is designated specifically for Deaf people and Deaf ways of worship, as well as certain sign language classes, meet-ups and meetings that are designated as Deaf zones.
The experience of being Deaf. Deafhood is sometimes referred to as the 'life journey' of a d/Deaf person. Therefore, the experience of Deafhood varies wildly from person to person.
Deafhood also refers to the collective experience (past, present and future) of members of the Deaf community.
The term 'Deafhood' affirms and underscores the fact that being Deaf has great value for Deaf individuals, for the Deaf community and for society as a whole.
Hearing people take note: Those who embrace and celebrate their Deafhood see no reason for medical intervention or a medical 'fix' for their ears because they do not see themselves as having a 'medical problem' that needs attention.
The positive nature of Deafhood helps dispel the myth held by many hearing people that Deaf people have a 'physiologic problem' that needs to be 'medically monitored' 'improved-upon,' 'fixed,' or 'cured.'
The concept of Deafhood underscores that the vast majority of Deaf people are content/pleased to be Deaf and are productive and proud members of their treasured Deaf Community and culture.
For more information on Deafhood, go to an online search engine and enter the keywords: Deafhood ASL University. Or: Deafhood definition. Or: Deafhood Foundation. Or: Deafhood Handspeak. Or: Understanding Deaf Culture In Search of Deafhood (Paddy Ladd)
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deaf (spelled with a lower-case d)
The term deaf refers to an audiological hearing deficit, the physiologic condition of limited hearing.
The term has nothing to do with the Deaf culture, the Deaf community, Deafhood or anything related.
The lower-case 'deaf' simply indicates that someone is unable, via their hearing, to decipher conversational speech on an everyday basis.
Lower case deaf people operate in the hearing community, live in the hearing culture and consider themselves to have a 'medical condition' referred to as a hearing loss. In other words, deaf people are 'medically deaf' but are not affiliated with the Deaf community/culture.
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Those of any age, who, at birth (due to genetic or other factors) had a hearing apparatus that was permanently affected while their fetus was in utero.
Pre-lingual d/Deafness (also referred to as: early deafened)
Those of any age whose hearing apparatus was permanently affected while their fetus was in utero or prior to the acquisition of speech and language, meaning prior to one year of age, the age at which language development typically begins.
Post-lingual d/Deafness (also referred to as: late deafened)
Those of any age, whose hearing apparatus was permanently affected after they acquired speech and language. Also see below: Late-deafened Adult (LDA)
Note: Pre-lingual d/Deafness is far more common than post-lingual d/Deafness.
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late deafened adult (lower case l and d). Often referred to by the acronym LDA.
Those born with normal hearing who acquired, post-lingually or after the onset of adolescence (13 years of age or older) diminished hearing.
Some LDAs ultimately learn ASL and affiliate with the Deaf community. The vast majority do not.
Prior to their hearing loss, LDAs learned/used English or some other auditory language, attended hearing schools, associated with hearing people and were immersed in the hearing culture and hearing world.
Most LDAs are not skilled with American Sign Language (ASL) and are not involved with the Deaf community and have little or no understanding of the Deaf community and culture.
LDAs typically go through a natural, understandable process of mourning the loss of their hearing, after which they struggle, as needed, to adjust to living life as an LDA.
For more information go to an online search engine and enter the keywords: Association of Late Deafened Adults (ALDA). And/or enter: HOH LD News.
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This inclusive term refers to all people who are Deaf or deaf regardless their primary language, culture, community affiliation, etc.
The term d/Deaf is also used to refer to those who are bi-lingual (skilled with English and ASL) and bi-cultural meaning they can operate effectively in both the Deaf and hearing cultures and communities.
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This medical term refers to those who cannot hear anything even when sound is amplified to the highest levels. There are, therefore, 'profoundly Deaf' (upper case D) and 'profoundly deaf' (lower case d) individuals.
Profoundly Deaf people operate in the Deaf community and culture.
Profoundly deaf people operate in the hearing community and hearing culture.
And, some profoundly d/Deaf people move back and forth (with varying degrees of success) between the two cultures and communities.
The following definition of 'profoundly deaf' is used by some medical professionals: A hearing loss so severe that one is unable to detect, in the better ear, any sound that is below 95 decibels.
Other definitions of 'profoundly deaf' are in use as well. For more information go to an online search engine and enter the keywords: profoundly deaf definitions.
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Deaf/hh (spelled with a capital D and lower case hh)
This term refers to Deaf and hard of hearing people who use ASL as a primary language and are entrenched in the Deaf community and culture.
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deaf/hh (spelled with a lower-case d and lower case hh))
This term refers to deaf people who do not use ASL, have little or no affiliation with the Deaf community and little, if any, understanding of the Deaf culture. These individuals operate primarily or exclusively in the hearing community and culture.
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Deaf-Blind (spelled with a capitalized D and B)
This term refers to people who have limited hearing and vision, of all types and degrees. Limited hearing and vision may be present at birth or may be acquired later in life. A number of different definitions of Deaf-Blind exist.
For more information go to an online search engine and enter the keywords: National Center on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB) Library. Or, enter: Deaf-Blindness Center For Parent Information and Resources. Or, enter: Helen Keller National Center.
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Children of Deaf Adults (CODA)
This term refers to hearing sons and daughters of any age, who were born to and raised by one or two Deaf adults. CODAs, from birth, are members of the Deaf community, they learn ASL as a first language and are entrenched in the Deaf culture.
The vast majority of hearing CODA individuals operate effectively in both the Deaf and hearing communities.
For more information go to an online search engine and enter the keywrods: Children of Deaf Adults (CODA) Dr. Bill Vicars, ASL University. Or enter: CODA International. Or enter: Child of Deaf Adults Wikipedia.
Note: Dr. Lisalee D. Egbert reminds us that some Deaf people prefer to sign: "Mother, father, Deaf" (rather than using the term CODA).
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Children of deaf adults (COdA*)
Dr. Bill Vicars (President of ASL University and Associate Professor of ASL and Deaf Studies, California State University) coined the term COdA (with a lower case d) in 2015.
This term refers to deaf, hard of hearing and hearing children born to and raised by deaf (lower-case deaf) parents who do not use ASL and are not affiliated with the Deaf Community or Deaf culture.
Kids of Deaf Adults (KODA).
This term refers to Deaf and hearing kids (18 years of age and under) who currently reside with one or two Deaf parents or guardians.
By Dr. Bill Vicars' definition of COdA* we could also consider KOdA* (kids under the age of 18 who reside with one or two deaf lower-case deaf parents or guardians.
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GODA (d/Deaf and hearing grandchildren of one or two Deaf grandparents)
By Dr. Bill Vicars' definition of COdA* we could also consider GOdA* (d/Deaf and hearing grandchildren of one or two deaf grandparents)
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SODA (siblings and spouses of d/Deaf individuals)
This term refers to d/Deaf and hearing people who grew up with (or are growing up with) one or more d/Deaf siblings. SODA is also used to refer to spouses of d/Deaf individuals.
By Dr. Bill Vicars' definition of COdA* we could also consider the terms SOdA* (d/Deaf and hearing people who grew up with (or are growing up with) one or more deaf brothers/sisters. Or, who are d/Deaf and hearing spouses of deaf individuals).
For more information go to an online search engine and enter the keywords: SODA ASL University Dr. Bill Vicars. Or enter: SODA siblings and spouses of Deaf adults.
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Deaf of Deaf (DOD)
Deaf and hard of hearing children born to and raised by one or two Deaf adults. From birth, DODs are members of the Deaf community, learn ASL as a first language and are entrenched in the Deaf culture.
For more information go to an online search engine and enter the keywords: Deaf children of Deaf parents. Cautionary Note: If you enter only DOD you will be taken to Department of Defense sites.
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This all-inclusive term refers to all people d/Deaf people.
There are several classifications of hard of hearing as folllows:
hard of hearing people who operate exclusively or primarily in the hearing community (d/hh)
hard of hearing people who operate primarily in the Deaf community (D/hh)
hard of hearing people who move back and forth between the hearing and Deaf communities (d/D/hh).
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This term refers to people who have normal hearing acuity. Some are skilled with American sign language, the vast majority are not. Some are affiliated with the Deaf community and knowledgable about the Deaf culture, the vast majority are not.
Those who are affiliated with the Deaf community, mostly, are those who are CODA, KODA and SODA and in some cases GODA. As hearing people, their long and close association with Deaf parents/guardians or siblings, from birth, and their immersion in the Deaf community and culture allows them unique insight into the experience of being Deaf and renders them highly skilled with ASL.
In addition, some hearing and late deafened people spend years associating with the Deaf community, experiencing the Deaf culture and learning ASL and the collective effect of these activities allow them entry into the wonderful world of the Deaf.
Ameslan. Another term for American Sign Language.
Deaf Meetup (or) Deaf Meet-up. A meeting or gathering of people who are Deaf, usually on a regular or fairly regular basis.
A note about the term 'deafness' (a term which makes many Deaf people uncomfortable).
Jolanta Lapiak (handspeak.com) offers this perspective on the term 'deafness.' "Currently, many Deaf people are uneasy with the term because it is used by hearing people to focus on what they view as 'broken ears,' without taking into account the overall human being. The term 'deafness' fails to focus on the Deaf person's spirit, intellect, ingenuity, potential, contributions, insights, emotions, etc.
Instead of using the term 'deafness,' many Deaf people prefer the term 'being Deaf.' Why? Because 'being Deaf' is a positive term, one that reflects the fact that the vast majority of Deaf people are content, well-adjusted people who are proud to be members of the Deaf Community and Deaf culture. And, because the term 'being Deaf' reinforces the idea that people who are Deaf do not see themselves as needing to be 'monitored' or 'fixed' by hearing people.
Hearing Impaired. This term is regarded as offensive by the vast majority of Deaf people. See: National Association of the Deaf Community and Culture Frequently Asked Questions
Deaf and Dumb. This term is outdated and regarded as offensive by the vast majority of, if not √all, Deaf people. See: National Association of the Deaf Community and Culture Frequently Asked Questions
ADDITIONAL TERMS RELATED TO PEOPLE WHO ARE DEAF
AAAD see: American Athletic Association of the Deaf
ADA see: Americans with Disabilities Act
ADA: Americans With Disabilities Act. Requires that businesses and public accommodations provide reasonable access and accommodations for individuals who are disabled or are considered to have a disability.
ADARA see: American Deafness and Rehabilitation Association
Adoption: Even if the following story isn't true, it is generally accepted as true in the Deaf community, which tells you a lot about the culture: "A Deaf couple want to adopt a baby. They go to an adoption agency that has a department which focuses on deaf adoptions. The agency advertises in Deaf publications. The couple adopt a child and bring him home. They take him to the doctor for a check up. Eventually the doctor sits them down and asks, "Who told you this child is Deaf?" They responded that the person at the agency informed them that the foreign doctor had the birth mother stand behind the child and clap and talk to him. The child did not respond. Then the American doctor said, "Well I've got great news! I've used our equipment here and found that your child is hearing!" The Deaf adoptive couple were so upset by the news--they took the child back to the adoption agency and requested a Deaf child instead. They wanted to give the defective (hearing) child back! (For additional discussion, see: Birth of a deaf child).
ADVBA see: American Deaf Volleyball Association
AGB see: Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf
ALDA see: Association of Late Deafened Adults
Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf
American Athletic Association of the Deaf
American Deaf Volleyball Association
American Deafness and Rehabilitation Association
American Sign Language:
"A visually perceived language based on a naturally evolved system of articulated hand gestures and their placement relative to the body, along with non-manual markers such as facial expressions, head movements, shoulder raises, mouth morphemes, etc.."
-- William Vicars 2007
American Society for Deaf Children
American Society for Deaf Children: They were set up in 1967. The ASDC has chapters all over the U.S. If a person comes to me who has recently given birth to a deaf child--I refer them to the ASDC as soon as possible. Seems (in my area at least) that most of the membership is made up from parents of Deaf Children.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Americans with Disabilities Act:
ASDC see: American Society for Deaf Children
ASHA see: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
ASL see: American Sign Language
American Sign Language Teachers Association
ASL University Glossary:
ASLTA see: American Sign Language Teachers Association
Assistive technology: Do you have a "Com-Tek?" They are like a mini-radio station. You actually wear an FM receiver. It is very discreet. You put the "broadcaster" (a very small device) on the teacher, speaker, or near the speaker's microphone. It sends the sound straight to your hearing aid. Samples of assistive technology: Note: these days TTY, TDD, and TT pretty much mean the same thing. TTY = teletype CC = Closed Captioning, TDD = telecommunication device for the deaf, TT = text telephone (but that term never really caught on)
Association of Late Deafened Adults
BiBi see: Bilingual Bicultural
Birth of deaf child: (Celebration of): Think of it from the perspective of Deaf parents. Suppose they have a Deaf child, we'll call him Jim. He will go to a deaf school and have signing teachers then when Parent Teacher Conf comes the parents can talk directly to the teacher When Jim gets a girlfriend she will probably be deaf. By having a Deaf child instead of a hearing one, the parents will be included when Jim gets married They will have a signed wedding the bride will have deaf friends then when they have children (grandchildren) who will probably be deaf and learn how to sign. Having a deaf child helps insure that a deaf couple will be included in the lives of their posterity! But if they have a hearing kid they can generally look on only one bright side--that he might grow up to be an interpreter for the deaf. (Celebration of): Think of it from the perspective of Deaf parents. Suppose they have a Deaf child, we'll call him Jim. He will go to a deaf school and have signing teachers then when Parent Teacher Conf comes the parents can talk directly to the teacher When Jim gets a girlfriend she will probably be deaf. By having a Deaf child instead of a hearing one, the parents will be included when Jim gets married They will have a signed wedding the bride will have deaf friends then when they have children (grandchildren) who will probably be deaf and learn how to sign. Having a deaf child helps insure that a deaf couple will be included in the lives of their posterity! But if they have a hearing kid they can generally look on only one bright side--that he might grow up to be an interpreter for the deaf.
Books: How to pick a decent ASL dictionary: A good idea is to visit your library and lay out all the available dictionaries and compare them side by side. This will help you get a feel for a good dictionary or text. If you happen to have a Deaf friend or two you might want to bring them along and ask their opinion. One idea is to call 1800-825-6758 (Harris Communications) and request their catalog (or get a catalog from some other fine bookstore that focuses on sign language related materials) and read through it to get a feel for what's out there.
British Sign Language
BSL see: British Sign Language
Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation
BVR see: Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation
CAAD see: Central Athletic Association of the Deaf
CAD see: Canadian Association of the Deaf
CAID see: Convention of American Instructors of the Deaf
Canadian Association of the Deaf
capitol or...call your local phone company.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
CASE see: Conceptually Accurate Signed English
CC see: Closed Captioned
CEASD see: Conference of Educational Administrators Serving the Deaf
CEC see: Council for Exceptional Children
CED see: Council on Education of the Deaf
Central Athletic Association of the Deaf
Central States Bowling Association of the Deaf
Certificate of Interpretation
Certificate of Interpretation and Transliteration
Certificate of Transliteration
Certification Maintenance Program
CF see: Captioned Films
Children of Deaf Adults
CI see: Certificate of Interpretation
CI/CT see: Certificate of Interpretation and Transliteration
Classifiers: Classifiers are signs that are used to represent general categories or "classes" of things. They can be used to describe the size and shape of an object (or person). They can be used to represent the object itself, or the way the object moves or relates to other objects (or people). Another definition is: "A set of handshapes that represent classes of things that share similar characteristics."
Clerc, Laurent: Deaf due to an accident when he was an infant. Born south of Lyons, France, in 1785. Attended the National Institute for the Deaf in Paris. (Enrolled at age 12) Graduated eight years later and became a tutor for the Institute. Retired at age 73.
Close Captioning: Lines of text that show up on your viewing screen that correspond to what is being said, music, and the various background sounds on the program you are viewing. The close captioning signal must be decoded for it to appear on your screen. Captioning that appears without needing to be decoded is "open captioning, or open captioned."
CMP see: Certification Maintenance Program
CODA see: Children of Deaf Adults
CODA: Child of Deaf Adult
COED see: Commission on the Education of the Deaf
Commission on the Education of the Deaf
Comprehensive Skills Certificate
Conceptually Accurate Signed English
Conference of Educational Administrators Serving the Deaf
Convention of American Instructors of the Deaf
Council for Exceptional Children
Council on Education of the Deaf
CSBAD see: Central States Bowling Association of the Deaf
CSC see: Comprehensive Skills Certificate
CT see: Certificate of Transliteration
CTS see: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Cued Speech: Was developed in 1966 by R. Orin Cornett at Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. The cues consist of eight handshapes used in four different positions. You use these cues in combination with the natural mouth movements that occur during speech. The cues help individuals who are deaf to clarify sounds that might otherwise be indistinguishable on the lips.
Culture: Societies develop culture based on problems presented by their environment For example Why do people dress the way they do In hot countries they wear white because of a problem with the sun in cold countries they wear thick clothes because of a problem with the cold. Why do we eat what we do? because of problems with hunger and lack of available food. Why do we create entertainment? Because of a problem with boredom. Different problems in the environment lead to differences in culture. So now what is Deaf people's "problem?" Take this with a grain of salt you "hearies" -- Deaf people's problem is...hearing people. Sure, sure you are right those of you who said, "communication," etc. You are "very right." Communication is the issue, but think of it this way-- if there were no hearing people, Deaf people would all just sign to each other and no communication problem would exist. (see Pathology of Deafness)
d/Deaf: When spelled with the small "d" the slash, and the capital "D" is used to mean physically and culturally Deaf. You can be Deaf without being deaf. For example: hearing children of Deaf parents are sometimes considered culturally Deaf. The deaf children of hearing parents are just "physically deaf" until they start associating with the Deaf community. Is it okay to use the word Deaf? Should we then use the term hearing impaired? Politicians used to prefer the term "hearing impaired," but the Deaf community loves the word "Deaf." You could say "Deaf" is "CC" --culturally correct. Read Deaf newspapers and you will see letters to the editor and editorials from time to time that strongly support the correctness of the term "Deaf." I've been asked, "When you are signing to someone, do you use the sign "DEAF" instead of "HEARING IMPAIRED?" I use the sign DEAF.
DAA see: Deaf Artists of America
DAFUS see: Deaf Athletics Federation of the United States
DB see: Deaf-blind
DBA see: Deaf Basketball Association
Deaf Artists of America
Deaf Athletics Federation of the United States
Deaf Basketball Association
Deaf Community: In regards to a culture test she recently took, Karen wrote: <<Section 2 "Culture" [True or False] #3. "You become a member of the Deaf Community simply by losing your hearing?" My sister and her friend, both who are hoh [hard of hearing], answered true when I asked them how they'd answer that question. My reason for answering false was because it seems to me that someone has to make an effort to be involved in the community...although they're still "in" the community, aren't they? What is the reason?>> Karen your answer "false" was correct. Let's discuss it a bit. We need to look at "acculturation."According to my American Heritage Dictionary: Acculturation: "The process by which the culture of a particular society is instilled in a human being..." A person who "loses his (or her) hearing" has not went through the acculturation process. You become a member of the Deaf Community when the culture of the Deaf Community has been instilled within you. The day after a person "loses his hearing," he still has the culture of a hearing person. He tends to be angry or depressed about the "loss." He doesn't know ASL yet. He doesn't yet subscribe to Deaf newsletters. His TV doesn't have close captioning (if it is an older model) or it is not selected. He is still a member of a hearing social club or church congregation. He doesn't have the relay number memorized. He doesn't own a TTY. Most if not all of his friends are hearing. Given a choice he would take his hearing back instantly. Even though his ears are deaf--he is still hearing in his mind. Such a person is not a member of the Deaf Community. He is a "hearing impaired" member of the Hearing World. Give enough time and opportunity he might very well become Deaf in mind and in heart as well as in his ears. He will change. He will learn ASL. He will form new friendships with Deaf people. He will tie into the community. He might even marry a Deaf lady and give birth to deaf children. Twenty or thirty years later, if handed a magic pill that "cures" deafness--he would hand it back.
Deaf Humor: Things that Deaf people find humorous, amusing, or funny. Typically in Deaf Humor it is the Deaf person who triumphs or is "in the know."
Deaf President Now: A successful protest that took place at Gallaudet University to replace a newly elected Hearing president with a Deaf one.
Deaf Women Uniteddeaf: deaf (with a lowercase "d")
The physical condition of partially or completely lacking in the sense of hearing to the extent that one cannot understand speech for everyday communication purposes. (For example, you can't hear well enough to use the phone on a consistent basis.)
Deaf: Deaf (with a capital "D") refers to embracing the cultural norms, beliefs, and values of the Deaf Community. The term "Deaf" should be capitalized when it is used as a shortened reference to being a member of the Deaf Community.
Example: He is Deaf. (Meaning that he is a member of the Deaf Community.)
Example: He is deaf. (Meaning that he is lacking in the sense of hearing.)
Demonstrated Signing: Signing on another person's body or on an object.
Department of Education
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
DOE see: Department of Education
Dominant Hand: The hand you do most of your signing with.
DPN see: Deaf President Now
DPRS see: Dual Party Relay Service
Dual Party Relay Service
DVR see: Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
DWU see: Deaf Women United
ED see: Department of Education
Fingerspelling: I recommend you go to the library and borrow a "Teach Yourself to Type" book. Then do the exercises just as if you were practicing typing. Actually time yourself. Then use a video camera to record your spelling. Later, watch the recording and use a tape recorder to record your voicing. Then compare the tape with the written originals.
Fonts, ASL: There is a type font that resembles fingerspelling. It is called Gallaudet (true type) and is available for download from the net.
FS see: Filmstrip or Fingerspelling
GA: means Go Ahead. Used while typing on a TTY.
Gallaudet University Alumni Association
Gallaudet, Edward Minor:
Gallaudet, Thomas Hopkins: Born December 10, 1787.
Gestuno: International sign has been carefully developed to be non-offensive in its gestures but doesn't really qualify as a Language but rather a communication system.
GU see: Gallaudet University
GUAA see: Gallaudet University Alumni Association
Handedness: Student asks, "Does "weak hand" and "strong hand" just refer to whether one is left or right handed?" "Weak hand" refers to your non-dominant hand and strong hand means your "dominant hand" for most people the right hand is dominant. Left-handed people sign left-hand dominant--almost a mirror image of right handed signers. Left-handed people also fingerspell with their left hand.
Hard of Hearing
HDS see: Human Development Services
Hearing People (Hearies): Non-Deaf people. Specifically hearing people who are unfamiliar with Deaf Culture, but can include all hearing people.
Hearing Impaired: An obsolete term. Instead use "Deaf and hard of hearing."
Hearing of Hearing Adults: HOHA: The hearing child of hearing parents.
Helen Keller National Center
HEW see: Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
HH see: Hard of Hearing
HHS see: Department of Health and Human Services
HI see: Hearing Impaired
HKNC see: Helen Keller National Center
HOH see: Hard of Hearing
HOHA see: Hearing of Hearing Adults
Human Development Services
IAPD see: International Association of Parents of the Deaf
IC/TC see: Interpretation and Transliteration Certificate
IDC see: Intertribal Deaf Council
IEP see: Individualized Education Program, Interpreter Education Program
Individualized Education Program, Interpreter Education Program
International Association of Parents of the Deaf
Internet discussion list for sign language interpreters
Interpret: means to go from Spoken English to ASL or vice versa.
Interpretation and Transliteration Certificate
Interpreter Training Program
Intertribal Deaf Council
ITP see: Interpreter Training Program
Japanese Sign Language
Jokes: See Deaf Humor
Jr.NAD see: Junior National Association of the Deaf
JSL see: Japanese Sign Language
Junior National Association of the Deaf
Kids of Deaf Adults
KODA see: Kids of Deaf Adults
Language and Culture Center
Langue des Signes Québecois
LEA see: Local Education Agency
Least Restrictive Environment
Left handed signers: Many of my left-handed friends who are deaf fingerspell with their left hand. It is perfectly acceptable for your daughter to spell with her left hand. As a left handed child learns sign language, she will tend to do a mirror image of the "normal" version of the sign. This is fine 99.9 percent of the time. The only time it is an issue is during signs that involve direction, like "RIGHT" and "LEFT." On these and similar signs you just need to make sure the sign is done in a directionally appropriate manner.
Limited Language Competency
Linguistics of Visual English
Little Theater of the Deaf
LLC see: Limited Language Competency
Local Education Agency
LOVE see: Linguistics of Visual English
LRE see: Least Restrictive Environment
LRE: Least Restrictive Environment.
LSQ see: Langue des Signes Québecois
LTD see: Little Theater of the Deaf
Manually Coded English
MCE see: Manually Coded English
MCE: Manually Coded English.
might want to call your State Office of Services for the Deaf and ask them. If that doesn't work then call your Public Service Commission. If that doesn't work then call the main number at the
Minimal Language Competency
MLC see: Minimal Language Competency
Movies involving Deaf Characters: Bridge to Silence, Love is never Silent, Children of a Lesser God.
NAD see: National Association of the Deaf
NAD: National Association for the Deaf. www.nad.org, 814 Thayer Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910-4500, 301-587-1788 Voice, 301-587-1789 TTY, 301-587-1791 FAX, www.nad.org
NAHSA see: National Association for Hearing and Speech Action
NAOBI see: National Association of Black Interpreters
National Association for Hearing and Speech Action
National Association of Black Interpreters
National Association of the Deaf
National Black Deaf Advocates
National Black Deaf Advocates
National Captioning Institute
National Center for Law and the Deaf
National Center on Deafness
National Congress of Jewish Deaf
National Fraternal Society of the Deaf
National Hearing Aid Society
National Hispanic Council for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing
National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf
National Softball Association of the Deaf
National Symposium on Sign Language Research and Teaching
National Technical Institute for the Deaf
National Theater of the Deaf
NBDA see: National Black Deaf Advocates
NBDA see: National Black Deaf Advocates
NCI see: National Captioning Institute
NCJD see: National Congress of Jewish Deaf
NCLD see: National Center for Law and the Deaf
NCOD see: National Center on Deafness
NERDA see: Not Even Related to a Deaf Adult
NFSD see: National Fraternal Society of the Deaf
NHAS see: National Hearing Aid Society
NHC see: National Hispanic Council for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing
NMM: Non-manual markers: Non-manual markers are facial expressions and body movements. Non-manual markers are used to inflect signs. That means to change, influence, or emphasize the meaning of a sign or signed phrase. For example, when asking a question that can be answered with a "yes" or "no" you raise your eyebrows a bit and tilt your head forward slightly.
Not Even Related to a Deaf Adult
NRID see: National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf
NSAD see: National Softball Association of the Deaf
NSSLRT see: National Symposium on Sign Language Research and Teaching
NTD see: National Theater of the Deaf
NTID see: National Technical Institute for the Deaf
OCR see: Office of Civil Rights
ODAS see: Oral Deaf Adults Society
Of course there are levels of acceptance in any particular culture, so a hearing person might never reach the innermost circle of acceptance in the Deaf Community
Office of Civil Rights
Office of Special Education
Office of Special Education Rehabilitation Services
OIC:C see: Oral Interpreter Certificate: Comprehensive
OIC:S/V see: Oral Interpreter Certificate: Spoken to Visible
OIC:V/S see: Oral Interpreter Certificate: Visible to Spoken
Oral Deaf Adults Society
Oral Interpreter Certificate: Comprehensive
Oral Interpreter Certificate: Spoken to Visible
Oral Interpreter Certificate: Visible to Spoken
OSE see: Office of Special Education
OSERS see: Office of Special Education Rehabilitation Services
Pathology of Deafness: Pathology (in general) is the study of disease. Deaf people don't consider themselves to have a disease or problem. I took a sign class with me to visit a Deaf party. Some of my students sat with me in the Deaf circle. I decided to ask if any of them would like their hearing back suppose a magic pill could take care of it and they wake up tomorrow "hearing" they each said (via signing) NO! My students were shocked I had to explain in class the next day that Deaf people do not consider their condition pathological. To the Deaf, deafness is cultural.
PEC see: Postsecondary Education Consortium
person who has a TTY. Jessie: How do you find out if there is a relay system? Answer: Try looking in your phone book under "relay services." If that doesn't work, you
Pidgin Signed English
Postsecondary Education Consortium
PSE see: Pidgin Signed English
PSE tends to follow English word order while using ASL signs. Initialization is kept to a minimum. Affixes are generally not used. "Be" verbs are not used. This is not to say that they are "omitted" but rather that they are expressed in ways other than a specific sign for a specific "be" verb. The sign "TRUE" is sometimes substituted for "be" verbs. Also the structure of the sentence combined with non-manual cues provides the same function as a "be" verb, (for example: nodding the head while signing "I TEACHER" would be interpreted as "I AM a teacher.") If you are taking a written test in an ASL class, watch out for questions like, "Which of the following are languages: ASL, PSE, SEE, ...etc." Chances are your instructor considers the correct answer to be "ASL" and does not include PSE, SEE, ...etc. This is because even though PSE is a "contact language," it isn't a full language in the same sense as ASL.
PSE: stands for Pidgin Signed English. Now referred to as "contact signing." Contact signing is often used when Deaf and hearing individuals need to communicate. One way to describe it is as a "middle ground" between artificially invented signed English systems and ASL.
Public Law 94-142: Passed in 1975. The goal was to promote a free and appropriate education for all children.
Registry of Interpreter for the Deaf, Inc.
Rehabilitation Services Administration
Relay Service: A relay service allows hearing people to call deaf, and vice versa. A communication assistant (CA) answers your call then relay information back and forth between you and a deaf
Repetitive Motion Injury
Reverse Skills Certificate
RID see: Registry of Interpreter for the Deaf, Inc.
RMI see: Repetitive Motion Injury
RSA see: Rehabilitation Services Administration
RSC see: Reverse Skills Certificate
S/V see: Sign to Voice Interpreting
SC:L see: Specialist Certificate: Legal
School for the deaf:
SE: refers to Signed English (in general) (Some people say that it is the other way around--SEE 1 refers to Signing Exact English and SEE 2 refers to Seeing Essential English) They are invented sign systems intended to represent English on the hands and thereby assist deaf children in the acquisition of English. In general SEE 1 is (was) based on syllables. The word always would be signed ALL + WAY + S. In general SEE 2 is based on a 2 out of three rule. If two words share two out of three characteristics: spelling, meaning, and/or pronunciation then you sign them the same. Also you have a number of affixes and initialized signs.
SEA see: State Education Agency
SEE 1: refers to Seeing Essential English
SEE 2: refers to Signing Exact English
SEE see: Signing Exact English/Seeing Essential English
Self-Help for Hard of Hearing:
SHHH see: Self-Help for Hard of Hearing
SIG see: Special Interest Group
Sign Instructors Guidance Network: The former name of the American Sign Language Teacher's Association.
S.I.G.N. see: Sign Instructors Guidance Network
Sign Supported English
Sign to Voice Interpreting
Signing Exact English/Seeing Essential English
SIMCOM see: Simultaneous Communication
Simcom: Signing (PSE or SE) and voicing at the same time. The term comes from the words Simultaneous Communication.
SK see: Stop Keying
Social Security Administration
Sociolinguistics of ASL: ASL Sociolinguistics is the study of the way people convey identity, group membership, relationship status, and opinions of events through their use of ASL. The study of sociolinguistics in general is based on the following premises: 1. Language changes, 2. In addition to conveying information, language can be used to indicate self identity, group membership and degree of loyalty, perceptions of relationship status, and perceptions of event status.
SODA see: Spouses of Deaf Adults, Siblings of Deaf Adults
Special Interest Group
Specialist Certificate: Legal
Spouses of Deaf Adults, Siblings of Deaf Adults
SSA see: Social Security Administration
SSDI see: Supplementary Security Disabled Income
SSE see: Sign Supported English
SSI see: Supplementary Security Income
State Education Agency
Stop Keying: abbreviated as "SK" --used to indicate that you are going to "hang up" or terminate a text-based interaction.
Supplementary Security Disabled Income
Supplementary Security Income
TC see: Total Communication
TDD/TTY see: Telecommunication Device for the Deaf / Teletypewriter
TDD: See TTY
TDI see: Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc.
Telecommunication Device for the Deaf / Teletypewriter
Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc.
Telephone for All email news service
TERPS-L see: Internet discussion list for sign language interpreters
TFA see: Telephone for All email news service
The conversation generally takes place in all caps with no punctuation. If you have a question you type Q. You type GA when you mean "go ahead" and type "SK" when you are ready to "stop keying" or end the call. For example if I were having a conversation on a TTY and I typed GA it would mean it is your turn to talk if I typed GA to SK, it would mean I'm ready to quit. If you typed back SK SK (double SK), it would mean you are done. Then we would both hang up.
Time, length of to become proficient: (Student asks) How long does it take to become proficient in sign? (Response) It depends how smart you are and what opportunities you have. I require about 360 classroom contact hours in my general program. That gets you up to conversational fluency--but I have students who can muck their way through a painfully slow signed conversation regarding a really basic topic after just a six-week class. I'm not saying such a conversation involves much language, but rather "communication" and/or negotiation of meaning. A lot depends on the deaf person you are communicating with. If he or she understands English word order. To actually become "good" at ASL (not PSE/contact signing, nor Signed English) you need about 480 classroom contact hours and about 1200 hours out of class practice.
Transliterate: (in this field): to go from spoken English to Signed English or vice versa.
TT see: Text typewriter
TTY see: Teletypewriter
TTY: A TTY (or a TDD) is a teletype or a telecommunication device for the Deaf. The phone rings. In a Deaf household it is generally attached to a lamp. The lamp goes on and off with the ringing of the phone. The Deaf person picks up the handset and places it on a coupling that attaches it to the TTY. Then the Deaf person types, "JOHN HERE GA" then John (or whoever) waits for a response. If words start coming across the screen, he knows that this is a TDD call. If jumbled letters come accross the screen it is probably a call from a hearing person without a TTY.
TY: shorthand during online chats for "thank you." TY is used in chat rooms and occasionally by Deaf people in signed conversations as sort of a "cute" way to say "thank you."
United States Deaf Bowling Federation
United States Deaf Skiers Association
United States Deaf Soccer Association
United States Deaf Tennis Association
USDBF see: United States Deaf Bowling Federation
USDSA see: United States Deaf Skiers Association
USDSO see: United States Deaf Soccer Association
USDTA see: United States Deaf Tennis Association
VESID see: Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities
Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities
Voicing: One place you will often see Deaf people using voice is with their kids. Let's face it--in the home parents sometimes need to get their kids attention and making a little noise through voicing is the easiest way to do it. Also the children get used to the voice and can understand it just fine. On the other extreme, the LEAST likely time for a Deaf person to voice is with a hearing stranger. With their kids they feel comfortable, but with strangers they feel very cautious (as any oppressed group would). They don't tend to voice when they are talking with another Deaf person. Why voice to other deaf? Another reason is you can't use voicing and ASL grammar at the same time. (See Simcom)
VR see: Vocational Rehabilitation
WCJD see: World Congress of Jewish Deaf
WDT see: World Deaf Timber Festival
Western Region Outreach Center and Consortia
WFD see: World Federation of the Deaf
WGD see: World Games for the Deaf
World Congress of Jewish Deaf
World Deaf Timber Festival
World Federation of the Deaf
World Games for the Deaf
World Recreation Association of the Deaf
World Winter Games for the Deaf
WRAD see: World Recreation Association of the Deaf
WROCC see: Western Region Outreach Center and Consortia
WWGD see: World Winter Games for the Deaf
YLC see: Youth Leadership Camp
Youth Leadership Camp
For additional terms that relate to people who are Deaf, go to an online search engine and enter the key words:
Gallaudet University Glossary Listing of ASL Related Terms
Deconstructing the terms: ASL and Sign Language (Handspeak, Jolanta Lapiak)
ASL University Listing of ASL Related terms (Dr. William Vicars)
Sources / Contributors / and Special Thanks to the following people for their contributions to the Deaf Studies and Sign Language Glossary:
Lyn J. Wiley, Deaf Poet, Author, ASL Instructor, Wordsmith
Dr. William Vicars, Ed. D. President of ASL University; Associate professor of American Sign Language and Deaf Studies, California State University.
Jolanta Lapiak, Owner of Handspeak; Ameslan Literary Artist; Ameslan storyteller; Media Poet, Ameslan Performance Artist and more.
Dr. Lisalee D. Egbert, Coordinator for the Deaf Ministry, Department of Evangelization, Archdiocese of Baltimore; Professor, California. State University
Rosie Malezer, profoundly Deaf / legally blind Australian Aboriginal author, writer, Copy-Editor, Proof-Reader and Translator. Advocate for Deaf rights and animal rights worldwide.
Katie O'Brien, ASL Instructor, Interpreter, Visual Performance Artist, Youth Activist
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