HandSpeak is a content site on sign language, consisting of American Sign Language (ASL) online dictionary, grammar tutorials, fingerspelling, literary arts (storytelling and poetry), ASL writing, and other features.
About the creator, publisher and ASL instructor
Jolanta Lapiak is the creator of Handspeak. Born a native signer to native signers (that is, culturally Deaf of Deaf family, Deaf relatives and Deaf communities from Europe to North America), she has been signing 24/7 all her life in family life and communities. Only 5-10% of all deaf children are born Deaf to Deaf parents.
Despite this age of mainstream schools for deaf children, Jolanta had attended schools for the deaf all her life from residential schools in Europe to Gallaudet University, using sign language 24/7. She grew up traveling and participating in international events of the Deaf, being exposed to all rich variations, accents, cognates, and so on.
Jolanta has lived in several cities in North America as well as earlier in Europe. She has traveled to many countries where she has been exposed to different signed languages and cultures which expanded further her signlan literacy and culture. She is an ASL instructor, presenter, ASL literary artist, media poet and narrator in American Sign Language.
Jolanta currently teaches ASL courses (levels one and two) at the University of Alberta. She also taught ASL courses in all levels in the ASL/Deaf Studies and ASL/English interpretation programs at Lakeland College, including the courses in intercultural communication for sign language interpreters, ASL structure, and Deaf culture. She holds an LPI proficiency level score of 5 out of 5 in ASL -- a native level.
Jolanta earned a MFA degree in Media Arts from NSCAD University, Halifax, a BFA with distinction in Media Arts from ACAD, Calgary, specializing in literary ASL arts. She is an alumnae of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., holding a BA with distinction. She holds an ASLICE (ASL Instructor Certification).
Jolanta, a pioneer, created a previous website in 1996 and then recreated it to handspeak.com in 2000, both originally as a hobby. It was a labour of love, respect, and passion for sign language and is still today.