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American Sign Language: "speech-impaired"

In a message dated 8/13/2016 7:46:09 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, curiouslymute writes:

Saw this on one of the pages on your site:

"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 don't know how other people who can't speak refer to themselves (I've honestly never met another), but I strongly prefer the term mute.
It fits in well with words like deaf and blind. Quick, to the point, one syllable.

I can't stand "speech impaired". The only impairment are idiots who won't read something I jotted down, or assume I'm a moron. That's a them problem, not a me problem. It's really THEM who are impaired by my lack of speech. 

When asked "hearing or deaf?" I usually answer with "mute".

-Julie Rae

Older correspondence:
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 rage.

So, yeah.. Is there a sign that says that I am not able to speak, but that i can hear?


Hi Lissa,
I have built a page for you.  See below.
Dr. V

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 Impaired"

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 "bother."
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).

CAN:  Use one firm downward movement.

HEAR:  Tap your ear twice.


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