Signs for DEAF
"My eye is my ear. My hand is my mouth." -- Meme, 2000s.
ASL signs for DEAF
Did you know that there are different signs for "deaf" in signed languages around the world? Here is a few variations in ASL 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 sign is technically translated as "deaf-mute"? In fact, many Deaf people are unaware of it, which shows that it's okay for Deaf people to use it naturally, but the English word or use of it is forbidden. It's only allowed in ASL, but not in English. Instead, use the English word "deaf" only.
Regional/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.
Meaning: absolutely deaf; profoundly deaf; very deaf; not hearing at all. [Video courtesy of Jonathan Pokorny (coda), 2018.]
Used by Deaf signers and sometimes codas only. Hearing signers using this sign may look awkward or maybe inappropriate.
Pronunciation/articulation: Thumb of dominant "10" handshape in contact with the ear transforms into "5" handshape as its fingers move backward.
Note that the term HEARING-IMPAIRED is rude, inappropriate, and unacceptable. Use "deaf" instead.
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.
For a goose-bumping true story, enjoy the video story "Deaf or Dead" by Jolanta Lapiak.
[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.]