About HandSpeak and the Creator

author: jolanta lapiak HandSpeak is a sign language web site or web app, comprising American Sign Language (ASL) online dictionary, tutorials, fingerspelling, Deaf culture, literary arts (storytelling, poetry, and other creative works), ASL writing, and more. Created in 1995 in Connecticut/New York, it's one of the oldest websites on the Internet that is still around today.

About the creator and ASL instructor

author: jolanta lapiak

Handwave, I am Jolanta Lapiak, introducing myself as a third person. She is the Deaf creator and owner of Handspeak and, terming herself as a "literary media arche-creator". She is a ASL instructor, presenter, media literary artist/artivist, media poet and narrator in ASL sign language.

Born a native signer to native signers (culturally Deaf of Deaf family, Deaf relatives and Deaf communities), she has been signing 24/7 all her life in Deaf family life and Deaf communities as well as deaf schools and Gallaudet University.

Jolanta had lived in several cities in North America as well as Europe in the first years of life. She had traveled to many countries where she has been exposed to different signed languages and Deaf culture aboard as well as she had participated in international events. In her teen years, she participated in the Deaflympics (formerly World Games for the Deaf) twice where she won a few medals which one of them with the Deaf world record in swimming (1989-2009). She was a Board member of the World Federation of the Deaf's Youth Section or WFDYS (1999-2004).

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 (2007-2012), 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, focusing on ASL literary arts with interests in ASL storytelling and poetry, ASL writing and calligraphy, 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). She holds an LPI proficiency score at the native level in ASL.

Jolanta created the "DWW" website in 1995 and then renamed it to handspeak.com in 2000, both originally as a hobby and advocacy. It was a labour of love and passion for sign language and is still today. Handspeak preserves sign language, Deaf people's experiences and lives, history, heritage, and culture.

Fun facts

What is your (Jolanta's) typing speed? Words per minute is about 80-90 wpm.

Favorite pens? Fine-nib fountain pens.

Related posts

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.

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.)

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.