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.

First 100 words.

  1. again
  2. also
  3. ask
  4. bad
  5. boy
  6. but
  7. can
  8. come
  9. deaf
  10. different
  11. drink
  12. drive
  13. eat
  14. email
  15. excuse
  16. family
  17. feel
  18. few
  19. find
  20. fine
  21. fingerspell
  22. finish
  23. food
  24. for
  25. forget
  26. friend
  27. get
  28. girl
  29. give
  30. go
  31. good
  32. have, has, had
  33. he
  34. hearing
  35. hello
  36. help
  37. home
  38. how
  39. Internet
  40. know
  41. later
  42. like (feeling)
  43. little
  44. live
  45. man
  46. many
  47. me
  48. meet
  49. more
  50. my
  51. name
  52. need
  53. new
  54. no
  55. not
  56. now
  57. ok, okay
  58. old
  59. other
  60. please
  61. remember
  62. same
  63. say
  64. school
  65. see
  66. she
  67. should
  68. sign, signed word
  69. slow
  70. some
  71. sorry
  72. store
  73. take
  74. tell
  75. text, sms
  76. thank, thank you
  77. their
  78. they
  79. think
  80. time
  81. tired
  82. try
  83. understand
  84. use
  85. wait
  86. want
  87. what
  88. when
  89. where
  90. which
  91. who
  92. why
  93. will
  94. with
  95. woman
  96. work
  97. write
  98. yes
  99. you
  100. your

As you feel more comfortable with the first few hundreds of ASL signs, progress further with your vocabulary and learn signing more.