Strolling through information via online sources (I use the word strolling instead of scrolling because I feel like I’m literally strolling down web pages to find information), I luckily rolled over some pretty cool images of two deaf signers. Besides the fact that both were very attractive and seemed to have the most “attitude” in their signing body language (a good thing in the signing world), the only noticeable difference between their gender was that one was White and the other was Black. The male (White) signed in a more closed space, used one hand gestures, and seemed to not move his mouth as much through his oral communication. The woman on the other hand (Black) signed in a more open space, used both hands rather than one, and showed a lot more facial expressions through her oral communication.
Being a bilingual student of American Sign Language, I find these facts intriguing. The pictures jumped off of the screen and into my bedroom as I watched two very different signers communicate in very different ways. The woman (whose name is Carol, she is also a professor at The Galludet School for the Deaf) explained how she became bilingual at a young age by attending a White school for the Deaf in Alabama. As a black woman, Carol didn’t understand any of the signs the White students used and found herself literally stuck when it came to communicating. She mentions in the article that after a while her Black counterparts and herself had to “catch on” to the White signs while teaching their peers their Black signs. Some may think this is fact of having White & Black vernacular in sign language weird, while others may care less. I on the other hand found this interesting.
I wasn’t surprised only because as a black signer, I use signs that are different from other races. I also take longer to sign a simple phrase or sentence. I find the signs that Black signers use seem more theatrical and long-winded. These may tie into how black signers differ from White signers and how races differ from one another in general. What I will do is study this more in my Capstone Project. What I won’t do is give you all of the information you think you want to know about American Sign Language.
Any questions? You’d have to try your hardest to ask me through sign language! This is of course a joke; even I have the ability to take a deep breathe, repress my deaf-ness and put my signs aside.