13 Apr The Do’s and Don’ts of American Sign Language

American Sign Language (ASL) is becoming more and more popular, scientifically backed up by the fact that non-verbal communication makes up a major component of everyday communication. There is an increasing demand in learning ASL, not just to establish an inclusive workplace culture but to also provide holistic customer service that every company is determined to practice.

Considered to be the fourth most used language in the United States, ASL is a visual language formed by organized hand gestures, body movements and facial expressions. Here are some of the Do’s and Don’ts that you need to be mindful about when talking to your Deaf friends:


 When talking about your Deaf friends on paper, the word ‘Deaf’ should always start with a capital “D”, to show respect and entitlement.
 Maintain eye contact. Non-Signers may take this action as staring and consider it rude but, in the world of Sign, maintaining eye contact is a common practice to approach with.
 To get a Deaf friend’s attention, start by waving. Wave your hand in his or her peripheral vision, but do so casually. A frenzied or hysterical wave might mean danger.
 Watch the face, not the hands. If you get lost in a conversation, it’s okay to ask. Honesty is very much appreciated in Sign, just as it is in any other language in the world.


 ‘Deaf and dumb’ is an offensive way to call a Deaf friend. The politically correct and respectful way to say is ‘Deaf and mute’.
 Grabbing or poking when you walk up behind a Deaf friend is a big ‘no-no’. Not only is it offensive to them but this action is commonly interpreted as a warning that something is wrong or someone is having an emergency.
 Chewing gum is not cool in Sign. Mouth movement is an important part of Signed communications and chewing gum is not the friendliest gesture.
 If you’re out for a meal with a Deaf friend, don’t feel obligated to order for them unless you’re asked. They know how get around and point at an item on the menu to the server.

Learning ASL creates meaningful relationships with people. It is a language that re-validates the importance of clear and effective communication, whether in a workplace or in a new country. These tips can help you dive into mastering this wonderful language and enjoy its benefits among friends.

Eton Institute offers ASL courses taught by qualified trainers and instructors. Check the upcoming courses with the best course type suited for you.    

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