Fingerspelling

Click on the section to the left to see a close-up of the desired letter from the manual alphabet.

Fingerspelling is an important part of ASL. It only takes a few minutes to learn the letters of the manual alphabet (see Letters section). You can begin fingerspelling words as soon as you have learned the handshapes of the manual alphabet (see Names and Examples). However, it will take time to become a fluent fingerspeller.

Some facts about fingerspelling:

  • Right handed signers, fingerspell with the right hand. Left handed signers, fingerspell with the left hand.
  • People fingerspell at different speed. Fast fingerspelling does not mean that person is a better fingerspeller. You fingerspell to communicate your thoughts. When people can easily understand your fingerspelling then you know that you are a good fingerspeller.
  • You can begin to learn fingerspelling in this course, but you will need to find someone to teach you how to be a good fingerspeller.

Tips for fingerspelling:

  • The hand is raised in a comfortable position by bending the elbow.
  • The palm is facing at a 45 degree angle across the body.
  • The arm does not move when fingerspelling. Each handshape is clearly formed.
  • Pause slightly between words.
  • Words with double letters are fingerspelled in different ways (see the Double letter section for details.)