Signs for DEAF

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

Printable ASL sign for DEAF

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.

Cultural Awareness

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.

Related signs: sign language, ASL (American Sign Language, Deaf culture, Deaf community, Deaf world, Deaf Gain, DEAFHOOD, deafness, deafened, CODA.

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

Feeling lucky? Random word

Basic word starters: hello / learn / ASL / sign language / alphabet / love / I love you / please / thank you / welcome...

Search Tips and Pointers

Search/Filter: Enter a keyword in the filter/search box to see a list of available words with the "All" selection. Click on the page number if needed. Click on the blue link to look up the word. For best result, enter a partial word to see variations of the word.

Screenshot of dictionary search with notes
Screenshot of the search dictionary

Alphabetical letters: It's useful for 1) a single-letter word (such as A, B, etc.) and 2) very short words (e.g. "to", "he", etc.) to narrow down the words and pages in the list.

For best result, enter a short word in the search box, then select the alphetical letter (and page number if needed), and click on the blue link.

Screenshot of dictionary search with notes
Screenshot of the search dictionary

Don't forget to click "All" back when you search another word with a different initial letter.

If you cannot find (perhaps overlook) a word but you can still see a list of links, then keep looking until the links disappear! Sharpening your eye or maybe refine your alphabetical index skill. :)

Add a Word: This dictionary is not exhaustive; ASL signs are constantly added to the dictionary. If you don't find a word/sign, you can send your request (only if a single link doesn't show in the result).

Videos: The first video may be NOT the answer you're looking for. There are several signs for different meanings, contexts, and/or variations. Browsing all the way down to the next search box is highly recommended.

Video speed: Signing too fast in the videos? See HELP in the footer.

ASL has its own grammar and structure in sentences that works differently from English. For plurals, verb inflections, word order, etc., learn grammar in the "ASL Learn" section. For search in the dictionary, use the present-time verbs and base words. If you look for "said", look up the word "say". Likewise, if you look for an adjective word, try the noun or vice versa. E.g. The ASL signs for French and France are the same. If you look for a plural word, use a singular word.