Video guidelines and tips for ASL students

These video guidelines and tips may be helpful for your ASL assignments. But, you should follow your ASL instructor's official video signing criteria or guidelines for your video-mediated assignments. Your instructor may have some different expectations.

A purpose of this post is more of an entertainment value. So, enjoy!

Handling a video camera

Use a tripod or a solid surface. Avoid handheld shaking. Such eyesore for a Deaf instructor's native eyes!

Avoid a mirror effect in your camera. The direction or room description may end up the opposite from the actual scene.

Don't use effects. No editing at all -- no cuts, no speed change, etc. I can tell whenever my ASL 101 student edits his/her video with a speed. This would affect their mark in fluency.

Setting up a video frame

Stay within the signing frame from the top of your head to your waist.

Scenario: You cut off your hands or even arms.

close up shot

Avoid a close-up that might cut off your signing frame.

Scenario: You set up your phone in a vertical orientation.

Use a horizontal frame. A vertical frame with black sides is not acceptable. It's a pet peeve.

Scenario: You set distance shot a long distance in hope that your instructor misses your mispronunciation in ASL and save a few points.

Long distance shot

Sorry, this mission fails. You cannot fool a Deaf eye but time is inconvenient for the instructor as marking videos is time-consuming. To save your marks, show your signing clearly and visibly.

Use a straight angle, not high nor low.


Use sufficient lighting to see your signing clear. Avoid lighting in the background (e.g. window) that makes you look like a shadow.


Wear a solid color that contrasts your skin color. No hat or hair in your face. No chewing.

Scenario: You dress up for your video assignment.

dress up

It's unnecessary, really. It doesn't affect your mark. But, don't be scruffy, neither.

lack of facial expression

Or, sometimes it's too much. Whether wearing make-up or not doesn't make a difference for your mark.

But, a long bright red (or cyan blue) fingernail painting ritual prior to video recording is really unnecessary. It can be eyesore. Imagine a long painted fingernail swooping near an eyeball. Shivering?

Checklist your video

Check your video before uploading it to eclass. Make sure that none of these happens to you.

Scenario: Your video submission can occasionally turn out like this -- upside down or sideway.

upside down

The instructor may watch your video on her/his laptop as a desktop, not a tablet. It could be a hassle to turn the laptop upside down. And worse, to pause the video, one would have to manipulate a mouse in the opposite direction. For this all, maybe deduct a couple of points on your mark.

Or, your video may cut off in the middle of your work.

Well, it did happen occasionally (ok, rarely). One out of 75 students in one semester hits this jackpot. Not just check your video but watch it from the beginning to the end before submitting it.

Good luck. Too many rules, I know. But, use your general common (not always common) sense to make your video a good quality that is pleased to the eye.

Related posts

Also see signing tips for video assignments and presentations.

New to sign language? "Where do I start?" or "How do I start learning sign language?" This ASL Rookie guide lists some selected links to the tutorials for ASL beginners to get started and keep rolling. It may be a useful review for intermediate-level learners and ASL students as well.

Some tutorial pages are a mix of free and premium versions. Access to premium content and links below are available in the PatronPlus subscription. More links/posts will be added from time to time.

Expressing needs and wants

  1. Making commands or requests

Talking about activities

  1. Frequency of time: how often?

Are you able to carry everyday conversations in ASL? Are you a student in the intermediate levels and beyond, who wishes to boost up your signing skills? You've come to the selected tutorial series. (Some premium content are available to PatronPlus membership.)

Stories, poems, performance arts, etc. in sign language.

This documentation project follows a child's language acquisition, literacy development, and phonological acquisition in sign language, specifically ASL, from newborn to age five in a natural native-ASL environment and visual culture.