The Value of Fingerspelling

UBC – Day 11

Many years ago, my mother taught me about fingerspelling.  I learned  how to use my fingers to spell words without having to use my voice to communicate.

Fingerspelling Skills

It is the way deaf people and their family initially learn how to communicate, though there is a myriad of other signs that deaf people use that are quicker and easier to “read” than spelling out each word individually.

I’ve not found many hearing people to communicate with this way. One of my grandchildren was a quick learner of fingerspelling.  We’ve had a bit of fun sending messages to each other in front of others who have not been able to understand what we were doing!

This year, I will endeavour to educate the other three grandchildren in this skill.  You never know when it comes in handy.

Working with the Deaf Community

It has been helpful to me and others.  Let me explain.  Quite a few years ago I was a member of Quota International, a women’s service club, and we did a lot of work with the deaf community.  Somehow I managed to be the one from our club to be involved.

I knew I could communicate and over several years learned some of the other signs.  In fact it was rather amusing on one occasion, as I learned that there were different “dialects” in our city.  Those north of the river had developed their own signs, and often had difficulty communicating with folk on the south side of the river.

It was a few years later that AUSLAN was created – an Australian sign language, that now most Australian deaf people use.

“Talking” with Someone who was Deaf and Blind

Before that though, I learned to communicate with a lady who was deaf and blind.  My basic skills were most helpful and I quickly learned how to spell on her hand.  She was so clever she could say the word before I had completed spelling it!  There’s info about Helen Keller, who was deaf and blind, here.

Several years later on one of our family drivers to see relatives in the southern states (Australia), we came across a group of four deaf travellers who were lost.  My husband saw them first and could see they were distressed.  I was able to direct them – and they were terribly grateful and impressed that someone could do fingerspelling.

If you want to learn it, Google for the Deaf Alphabet for your country – US is different to Australian.  Check it out. It really is easy to learn.

Image from Deaf Children Australia.

As well as helping my grandchildren with handwriting in 2018, I am going to help them with fingerspelling too!!!



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About Di Hill

My business card says "Writer, Traveller, Camera Addict, Bamboo Fan, Workshop Presenter." This website will focus on my writing - and the workshops I present. Workshops on Blogging, Marketing for Writers, and Life Story Writing.
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