Sign Language: explore, discover, and learn

Sign language resources online at www.handspeak.com.

art of signer fingerspelling ASL

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ASL Sign Language | Handspeak

Created in 1995, the website/webapp HandSpeak® is a popular go-to sign language and Deaf culture online resource for college students and learners, language and culture enthusiasts, interpreters, homeschoolers, parents, and professionals across North America for language learning, practice and self-study.

Handwave! I'm Jolanta, the creator of this web app/site since 1995. Very long time, yes! It has been made with endless personal volunteer time, effort, and heart. I hope you will find this sign language resource and reference helpful with your language learning.

ASL Sign Language Dictionary

Search tips

Filter: Enter a keyword in the filter field box to see a list of available words with the "All" selection. Click on the page number if needed. Click on the blue link to look up the word. For best result, enter a partial word to see variations of the word.

Screenshot of dictionary search with notes
Screenshot of the search dictionary

Alphabetical letters: It's useful for 1) a single-letter word (such as A, B, etc.) and 2) very short words (e.g. "to", "he", etc.) to narrow down the words and pages in the list.

Screenshot of dictionary search with notes
Screenshot of the search dictionary

Don't forget to click "All" back when you search another word with a different initial letter.

Or, start with the First 100+ Signs. What does the ASL sign mean? Look up a word in the ASL to English Reverse Dictionary.

Tutorials and Blog

Browse tutorials and articles to explore and learn history, grammar, Deaf culture, and more.

Sign of the Day

Guess what the ASL word mean? See English translation Meaning: EMPOWER. Explore this word in the dictionary.

Fingerspelling of the Day

What does it say? Hover over to see the word. Take me to the page.

Try fingerspelling practice to improve your receptive skill. New to fingerspelling? Learn the ASL alphabet.

Kid Signing of the Week

The video shows a baby signing the ASL word COOK in the early language acquisition (handshape, location, and movement).

Sentence of the Week

A weekly sentence is available in PatronPlus subscription. To get started for a new learner, learn how to sign "How are you?".

Browse some more phrases and sentences that may give you some insights into how grammar, structure and meaning are constructed in ASL sign language and help you learn how to express them in ASL.

Sign Storytelling

Random pick of some stories, true stories, fables, parables, and poems.

Browse some tutorials for grammar, article posts, etc.

Trivia Question

Can you lipread a word? Guess the word.

  • A) for good
  • B) forgot
  • C) for God
  • D) forged
  • No matter if you get it right or not. It just illustrates that lipreading is not the best mode of communication for many deaf people.

This Day in Deaf/Sign Language History

Wawa in People magazine
Photo: Lisa Cryer, Feb. 2021

Deaf artist/rapper/performer Warren Snipe was featured in People magazine in February 2021.

Deaf rapper Warren "Wawa" Snipe performed the national anthem in ASL at Super Bowl LV. Wawa is a Black Deaf writer, rapper, actor and performer. He was featured in several TV series such as "Black Lighting".

Black History Month

Today features one of some notable Deaf African-American heroes who made contributions:

Claudia L. Gordon, African-American lawyer, was appointed by the White House in 2013 as the Associate Director for the Disability Community in the Office of PUblic Engagement.

Ernest Garrett III
Screenshot from Deaf Focus video post, May 28, 2020.

"SSD Supt. Ernest Garrett III sat in front of Louisiana's Senate Committee to begin the confirmation process for his role as Special School District Superintendent. When confirmed, Mr. Garrett will be the first Deaf African American appointed to this position." -- Deaf Focus, May 28, 2020.

Manual alphabet

how to write wh-questions in ASL

To get started, learn the ABCs in ASL alphabet.

Numbers

Take a peek what the ASL number is: number.

Learn how to sign numbers 1 to 100.

Written ASL Word

AUTHOR

Guess what the ASL written word mean? Take a peek. Take me to this word.

Disclaimer [?]

Disclaimer: Written digits of the ASL words are unofficial and they may evolve over time. The purpose is for exploration and discovery only.

"I cannot understand how a language like sign language - the richest in expressions, the most energetic, the most advantageous in its universal intelligibility is still so neglected and that only the deaf speak it. This is, I confess, one of those irrationalities of the human mind that I cannot explain."
-- Pierre Desloges, 1779

What is Sign Language?

Sign language is a natural, full-fledged language in visual-spatial modality. It has all the features of linguistics from phonology and morphology to syntax as found in spoken language. Signed languages are not a universal language; sign languages, such as British Sign Language (BSL) and French Sign Language (LSF), are distinct languages throughout the world.

American Sign Language (ASL) is the primary language of Deaf people in Deaf communities and Deaf families across the United States and Canada. It's also a fast-growing. popular second language or foreign language for hearing people in North America. Like other languages, ASL has its regional variations.

Language learning

Bilingualism has a number of cognitive benefits. Find out what benefits are for learning sign language. In addition to the benefits of bilingualism, bimodalism and Deafhood also have some extra benefits.

Explore some ways on how to get started with learning sign language.

Grammar

Signed languages have their own grammar that are different from spoken languages. E.g. ASL and English are two independent languages with their own structure, grammar, vocabulary and so on. In addition, it has its own intonation, including facial expression.

Random grammar tip:

When describing a geographical direction or a shape, use the signer's perspective. Describing basic shapes

Deaf community and Deaf culture

Where there is language, there is culture; sign language and Deaf culture are inseparable. Learning sign language and Deaf culture comes with the process of allyship along with awareness toward appreciation and away from cultural appropriation and audism (alliteration, yay!).

Deaf community comprises Deaf people, codas (children of Deaf parents), hard-of-hearing signers, and hearing signers and allies.

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Testimonials

The sign language site is one of few most reliable resources and references highly recommended by Deaf native signers, including ASL instructors.

"Even though I'm Deaf with ASL as my native language, I still use Handspeak a lot in the last few years for reference. I also frequently recommended this website to hearings/ASL students I met. It's amazing how you contributed so much, so I just want to let you know how much I appreciate that. -- Theo, 2020."

"This website is AWESOME! I always refer it to my students. -- Denise (Deaf ASL instructor), 2021"

"This website is a godsend. Your work is amazing and I just wanted to thank you. Without it, learning ASL would have been much harder. -- Le, 2021"

"I just wanted to let you know that you are the reason I've been getting A's in my ASL classes and to say thank you. I use your website multiple times a day, and it has fleshed out so much information about the language of ASL and the Deaf community. You have truly made a difference in my life!" -- Angie DiNardo, February 4, 2022.

Thank you Handspeak!! You were an invaluable resource for me during my interpreter education program. I came to the conclusion that your dictionary of signs were one of the best and I relied on it immensely.

"I have been struggling to figure out signs for my class. It was really beginning to wear down on me and I was getting nervous about how the rest of the semester will go. A problem that was haunting me was found in short order using the sign and contextual reference from the assignment. THANK YOU!!!! You have blessed me for sure! -- Nita"

"THANK YOU SO MUCH. This site is amazing. I am just learning ASL, and I keep this tab open on my computer and check in several times a day to form words and sentences. Very blessed for this incredible project of yours. -- A.S."

"Handspeak is such a great online ASL lexicon, and it is very helpful. My TA's recommended it over other online ASL dictionaries. Thank you again! -- J.Y., 2017"

"Your website has helped me to learn ASL and about Deaf culture, both when I studied in University and now as I continue to practice and learn. I just wanted to express that I am so grateful for you and for handspeak.com- you are wonderful, thank you for creating this project!! -- Kat"

"Your website is a blessing! I often refer my ASL students to the tutorials on this site as an extracurricular resource when they needed help. -- a certified ASL instructor and Deaf native signer."

"Our daughter is so much happier that she can tell us what she wants and needs. Much less crying, much more laughing! Thank you for this site, the best of its kind on the web."

"We use the site in our homeschooling, as a second language, for our 9-year-old child who does really well with homeschooling. He's exceptionally bright, very active, inquisitive and challenging. Your site has captured his interest and he is intrigued."

"I scuba dive, and being able to use sign language while diving would expand the experience greatly. -- L. Niles"