Signs for DEAF

How to sign "deaf" in American Sign Language, including "profoundly deaf" or "stone deaf". Understand the difference between "deaf" and "Deaf". Plus, a link to one of some all-favorite stories, "Deaf or Dead". A true, goose-bumping story.

Printable ASL sign for DEAF

"My eye is my ear. My hand is my mouth." -- Meme, 2000s.

ASL signs for DEAF

Here is a few variations in American Sign Language with one being the most common sign.

Meaning: Partially or wholly lacking or deprived of the sense of hearing; unable to hear.

Pronunciation/articulation: Tip of dominant forefinger points to the ear and then to the tip of mouth.

Did you know that this ASL word is technically "deaf-mute"? In fact, many Deaf people are unaware of its origin; however, it remains to mean "deaf" nevertheless. In English, the word or use of "deaf-mute" is unacceptable. It's only allowed in ASL, which simply means "deaf".

Phonological variation. It's less used by Deaf signers than hearing signers.

Pronunciation/articulation: Tip of dominant forefinger points to the tip of mouth and then to the ear.

Old ASL sign (found in older generations prior to about mid-20th century): nearly obsolete.

Pronunciation/articulation: Tip of dominant forefinger points to the ear and then two "B" hands (palms down) converges together.

Profoundly deaf

Meaning: Profoundly or completely deaf; as deaf as stone; very deaf; not hearing at all.

Profoundly or completely deaf in both ears. Stone Deaf.

Used by Deaf signers and sometimes codas only. Hearing signers using this sign may look awkward or somehow culturally inappropriate.

Pronunciation/articulation: Thumb of dominant "10" handshape in contact with the ear transforms into "5" handshape as its fingers move backward.

As seen out in the wild. [Video courtesy of Jonathan Pokorny (coda), 2018.]

Cultural Awareness

Note that the term HEARING-IMPAIRED is oppressive, inappropriate, and unacceptable. Use "deaf" instead. Hearing professionals made this decision in the 1980s without consulting Deaf community and Deaf people.

What is the difference between "deaf" and "Deaf"?

Generally, the term "deaf" with the lower case "d" is an audiological term, meaning not hearing, whereas, the word "Deaf" with the capital letter "D" refers to deaf people who are members of Deaf community, speak ASL (or other signed language) as their primary language, and are enculturated with Deaf culture and Deafhood.


Related signs: Deaf people and sign language are inseparable, ASL (American Sign Language, Deaf culture, Deaf community, Deaf world, Deaf Gain, DEAFHOOD, deafness, deafened, CODA (children of Deaf parent/s).

Opposite: hearing.

ASL Storytelling

For a goose-bumping true story, enjoy the video story "Deaf or Dead" by Jolanta Lapiak.


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Written ASL

[Note: ASL writing is not an official standard. This sign language writing remains in a state of open space to allow room for experiment, evolution, and improvement.]

ASL writing for DEAF

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