American Sign Language, though visual in nature, operates similarly to other languages. In English or another spoken language, a speaker puts a series of sounds together to create a distinct word or phrase. In ASL, a signer generates words through five visual parameters: handshape, palm orientation, movement, location in relation to the body, and non-manual signal (i.e., facial expression). Just as in English if you accidentally said the word “farm” instead of “firm,” you would get a different reaction, changing one of the parameters such as movement or palm orientation can change the sign’s meaning.

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Video Assignment: Alphabet, Numbers, and Name
American Sign Language, though visual in nature, operates similarly to other languages. In English or another spoken language, a speaker puts a series of sounds together to create a distinct word or phrase. In ASL, a signer generates words through five visual parameters: handshape, palm orientation, movement, location in relation to the body, and non-manual signal (i.e., facial expression). Just as in English if you accidentally said the word “farm” instead of “firm,” you would get a different reaction, changing one of the parameters such as movement or palm orientation can change the sign’s meaning.
So, how does one begin to learn ASL and apply these parameters? Throughout the next 4 weeks, you have opportunity to practice and build your ASL vocabulary. This week, in your first Video Assignment, you record yourself signing the fundamentals: the ASL alphabet, numbers, and your name.
To PrepareReview the Learning Resources on American Sign Language and the five parameters.
View this week’s Basic ASL video lesson, and practice signing the alphabet and numbers. Then, practice fingerspelling your name and location (e.g., city or state). Prepare yourself and your space for recording. Follow these tips:Wear a solid color that contrasts with your skin tone.
Avoid distracting backgrounds.
Sit a sufficient distance from the camera to show the signing area. The signing area is the top half of your body. Record and submit a video that includes you signing:The alphabet
Numbers 1–20
Your name and city/state

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