HandSpeak is a content site on sign language, consisting of American Sign Language (ASL) online dictionary, grammar tutorials, fingerspelling, literary arts (storytelling, poetry, and other creative works), ASL writing, and other features.
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.
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, 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. In her teen years, she participated in the Deaf Olympics twice where she won a few medals which one of them with a Deaf world record in swimming. Today, she is an ASL instructor, presenter, media literary artist/artivist, media poet and narrator in American Sign Language.
Jolanta taught ASL courses (levels one and two) at the University of Alberta (2011-2020). Before that, 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.
Jolanta earned a MFA degree in Media Arts from NSCAD University, Halifax, a BFA with distinction in Media Arts from ACAD, Calgary, specializing in ASL literary arts with interests in ASL writing and calligraphy, ASL poetry and storytelling, and ASL linguistics. 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 converted 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. Handspeak preserves authentic ASL, Deaf people, heritage, and culture.