Deaf people in Deaf community, deaf schools, and Deaf families together are the torchbearers🔥 of sign language, culture, and Deafhood -- these linguistic-cultural elements are inseparably interwoven.
Once upon a time back in kindergarten, you longed to learn about sign language of the Deaf people. But, there was a little chance or none.
There was a time, you were thrilled to take ASL courses at a post-secondary institution, but you hadn't have a chance to immerse in the Deaf/signing world. Or, you're far in a rural region.
Today with an Internet connection, you can explore, discover, and learn sign language of the Deaf people anywhere in the world with one click away.
Handwave 👋, my name is Jolanta Lapiak. I'm an ASL instructor, presenter, narrator and a literary media creative in American Sign Language. And, the creator and owner of handspeak.com.
I've been living, breathing, and speaking in sign language 7/24/365 since the day I was in womb. That is, I was born a native signer to native signers (culturally Deaf of Deaf family, Deaf relatives, and Deaf communities as well as deaf schools, and Gallaudet University.
The pre-handspeak website (later renamed to handspeak.com in 2000) was created in New York in 1995 while its creator (me) was in Connecticut. Since then, we had relocated multiple times across North America, never together. Yeah, it's one of the oldest websites on the Internet that is still around today!
Originally created as a hobby and advocacy, it has been a labor of love and passion for sign language and is still today. Uncountable hours and days, endless passion have flowed into this website/app over the past 25 years:
Growing up, I've been exposed to multiple aspects of the sign-language/Deaf world from sports and social to academics and politics.
Social life: I had lived in multiple cities in North America for decades as well as Europe during the first years of life. I had traveled to many countries where I had been exposed to different signed languages and Deaf culture aboard as well as I had participated in Deaf international events.
Politics and advocacy: I was a Board member (vice president) of the World Federation of the Deaf's Youth Section or WFDYS (1999-2004) as well as I worked in organizations of the Deaf.
Sports: In my teen years, I had participated in the Deaflympics (formerly World Games for the Deaf) twice where I won a few medals which one of them with the Deaf world record in swimming.
Academics: I've taught ASL courses (levels one and two) at the University of Alberta (2011-2020). 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.
*Gallaudet University with rich history is the only university in the world where everyone talks in sign language (ASL).
What is your typing speed?
Words per minute is about 80-90 wpm.
Something else cool in your life?
One of the 1988 Winter Olympics torchbearers*.
*Although, we Deaf people are the lifelong living torchcarriers🔥 of sign language.
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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.)
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.