DOCTOR in sign language

How to sign "doctor" in American Sign Language (ASL)?

Definition: A qualified practitioner of medicine; a physician.

Same sign for PHYSICIAN.

Learner Tip: Do NOT use this sign for Dr. as in the honorific. Use a different sign (fs-DR). See the video below.

Meaning: written abbreviation for Doctor.

This ASL sign refers to the honorific name as in Dr. Last-Name. Not everyone with a PhD degree is a physician! It refers to people who have doctorate degrees.


Minimal Pairs

Same movement, orientation, and location but different handshape: NURSE, PSYCHIATRIST. Location: KNOW.

Deaf ASL-signing Doctors across North America

Dr. Hartley Bressler, Toronto, Ontario.

Dr. Jessica (nee-Dunkey) Nertomb, the first Deaf Metis doctor in Canada. Now in B.C., Canada.

Dr. Justine Durno of Scotland-born U.K. gave a panel speech in BSL (British Sign Langauge) via interpreter at the United Nations Assembly in New York City in March 2020 about accessibility in STEM and medical fields. She was also invited by Princess Nisreen El-Hashemite of Iraq to write a chapter in a book called "Women and Girls in Science."

Dr. Megan Jack, Winnipeg.

Dr. Michael Mckee, USA.

ASL-signing Codas

Dr. IV Mirus, an ER doctor at the University of Rochester Medical Center.


"I am a doctor, and I was seeing a new patient who didn't speak a word of English. She spoke only a local African tribal language.. her previous contacts with doctors during immigration had been very negative. At first she refused to speak to me at all.

But I found that by adding the more intuitively obvious ASL signs to my English sentences while I was speaking, I was able to make more direct contact with her. .. She ended up getting along well with me and was very animated and asking questions by the end of the visit. [...] " -- E.C., MD. April 18, 2001, USA. Source:


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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 written for DOCTOR

ASL digit written and contributed by Todd Hicks in the ASLwrite community, 2017.

ASL written for DOCTOR var

Variation of written ASL digit for "DOCTOR". [Adrean Clark, 2018]

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