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Bangs & American Sign Language
A brief discussion regarding signing while having a fringe of hair hanging down over your forehead.
A student asks: "What if you have bangs? Does it make a difference in how others will read your facial expressions?"
If your bangs are long enough to cover your eyebrows it will have an impact on how easily your signing is understood since the eyebrows play a significant role in the facial grammar that is used to indicate whether you are signing a question -- and if so -- what type of question you are asking.
Most skilled signers can still figure out if you are asking a question and what type of question you are asking simply by evaluating the tilt of your your head, small changes in the muscles in your face (particularly around your eyes) the signs you use, and the context of your signing.
I know some ASL teachers who are not overly thrilled when they have to grade video submissions by students with bangs because it requires more attention to determine if a student with (long) bangs is indeed using proper facial grammar for their sentences. This becomes onerous (requiring a level of effort that becomes burdensome) if the signing is being evaluated from a poorly lit video viewed in a tiny window frame in which the student's head is approximately 3/4 of an inch in size.
Does that mean you should cut your bangs?
I suppose it depends on if you are taking a graded ASL class or not.
If you become a professional sign language interpreter you might seriously want to consider a hair style that doesn't involve bangs.
Might I recommend to you my own personal hair style? It is easy to maintain and I literally never have a bad hair day. Ever.
- Dr. Bill
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