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Facial Expressions and disability

What do you do when you need to sign but have a disability that affects your facial expressions?

Received: Tue, Nov 1, 20XX 12:45 pm
Subject: ASL Facial Expressions and disability

Hello Bill,
I really like your lessons. I'm a hearing autistic who loses the ability to speak semi-frequently (why I want to learn ASL and PSE). I also have a language and speech disability. As a result, I struggle with grammar and facial expressions (both doing and recognizing them). I was wondering if you had any tips for what to do? Would people still understand me without proper facial expressions? Should I replace the signs that use facial expressions with SEE signs?
Thank you!
[name redacted to respect the person's privacy]




Hello ███████!
My suggestion is to not worry about it.
People will still understand you most of the time as long as there is enough context.
If someone doesn't understand you then rephrase your question, add more context, or add a "question mark wiggle" sign to clarify that you are asking a question. (See:

There is a huge overly narrow emphasis in much of ASL instruction as to what constitutes the "right" grammar for ASL.
This over-emphasis is actually (in my humble opinion) harmful to the learning process. Much of this is due to (many) ASL instructors mistakenly thinking that topicalization is equivalent to "topic / comment" -- it is not.

At your convenience, please read the following articles:

Then see this article:

And here's another suggestion:

Warm regards,
Dr. Bill


The Question Mark Wiggle sign:




The term "SEE signs" refers to the signs used in communication system known as "Signing Exact English" (or an other version of that was Seeing Essential English -- but almost nobody uses the term Seeing Essential English any more and instead uses SEE to refer to Signing Exact English).


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