Learning the alphabet in sign language is a really fun and useful skill to have. While finger spelling out words can take longer than if you know the ASL words, it enables you to communicate with someone.
It should be noted that while learning the ASL alphabet is a beginner skill, the child or student will have to know how to spell in order to use the alphabet.
Finger spelling in ASL to communicate also requires a bit of motor planning, which some students may lack. Mentally you are already planning out the next letter while you are signing the current letter, if that makes sense.
What is ASL Fingerspelling?
ASL fingerspelling is just what it says–you are communicating to the person by spelling out the words. It can be a slow and laborious way to communicate. But, sometimes it is necessary for beginners in ASL.
For example, instead of using the ASL for “yes” I would answer you using the 3 separate letter signs for Y-E-S.
I have another post with common ASL words, if you wish to learn those separately.
It should be noted that if trying to communicate with ASL and fingerspelling, it requires sufficient working memory skills. Both the signer and the receiver will have to remember the letters already used and save the information in their head until the word is complete.
Still, learning to fingerspell ASL is better than having no communication at all. ASL is the 4th most common language in the USA.
Just like learning any other language, you have to practice it. I learned Italian before I lived in Italy and I used it for the 6 months I was there. But guess what? I haven’t used it nor practiced it since then, so of course I lost those skills.
Practicing ASL skills is essential if you want to learn sign language.
There are pros and cons to fingerspelling. First, it’s great because the signer only has to learn the alphabet of 26 letters and numbers. Learning ASL as a whole is like learning any other language–you have to learn all the words.
The cons would be that fingerspelling, as opposed to regular ASL, is slow moving. Spelling out each word to communicate takes a lot of time. And, those who lack memory skills may struggle with finger spelling.
But, finger spelling is a great way to get started in ASL and see if you like it and are good at it. ASL interpreters are always in high demand. So, who knows? Maybe you’re on the verge of a career change!
ASL Fingerspelling Worksheets
Anyway, here are the free worksheets. You can use them to reinforce and teach the ASL alphabet. These worksheets may be used at home or in a classroom or work setting. However, do not sell them nor alter them in any way, due to copyright issues.
Thank you and happy signing!ASLabcWorksheets
Here is another booklet to practice the ASL alphabet.ASLabcLetterBooklet
And, here are more things to consider with these activities.
ASL and your IEP
If you or your child uses ASL or sign language, or, you wish for them to use ASL, there are a few things you should know.
- ASL is the 4th most common language used in the USA (know this as a reference point, in case you hear “well no one really uses ASL anymore”)
- Deaf/Hard of Hearing and ASL is one of the Special Factors on the IEP, which means that the IEP team must consider and discuss this.
- If you use ASL as a parent, but your child is not deaf or hard of hearing, the school must provide an ASL interpreter if you request it (for IEP meetings, etc). The rule still applies that all communication with the parent must be in a language that you understand.
- If your child is deaf, the team must still consider LRE or Least Restrictive Environment. A district cannot send a child to a school for the deaf just because they are deaf. All other options must be considered and discussed.
- As always, submit your parental concerns in writing, follow up with a PWN.