Right handed/Left handed



Is there a difference in which hands are used for each sign? If i use my dominant hand for a one handed sign as opposed to the other? or choose to swap which side i use for the signs.



Dear MarjP2,

That is an excellent question! The flow of sign language is very important since the way you move your body, face and hands could be likened to an accent in a spoken language. In the case of ASL, the dominant hand is used for ALL one-handed signs. Although there may be very rare situations in which a skilled signer may choose to use thier non-dominant hand to sign a one handed sign, this is very rare and would depart from standard ASL “pronunciation." In general, switching hands would be confusing to your viewers and make it difficult to naturally understand and follow you. 

In the case of 2-handed signs, sometimes it is easy to get confused as to which part of the sign should be expressed with your dominant hand and which part should be your non-dominant hand. The best way to remember is that the hand that is doing the movement or expressing the main thought should be your dominant hand. An example of this would be the sign for “name." Your dominant hand should be the one on top that is moving and your non-dominant hand should remain stationary and you should not switch back and forth.

As time goes on and you become more experienced with the language, you will become more comfortable with how to handle two handed signs naturally and correctly. The important part is to pay close attention to skilled communicators and to make mental notes of how they are doing it in relation to their dominant hand.

Happy learning!

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