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A More Useful Approach to Learning the ASL Alphabet

What we typically teach students about the ASL alphabet isn’t actually what native users of ASL use when they fingerspell. I believe I have cracked this secret system and want to share it with you. This presentation discusses and demonstrates a variety of processes that regularly occur in ASL fingerspelling. It will also describe a variety of allomorphs of morphemes used in specific phonotactic environments that have caused previously undiscovered handshapes used when fingerspelling. Come to this presentation and when you leave you will understand the above sentence too! The presentation will offer overarching principles that have promise to positively impact the ability for non-native users of ASL to become more native-like in their ability to perceive fingerspelling. Regardless of your level of skill, and regardless of how long you have been teaching, I can guarantee that most who attend will learn many new things about the ASL alphabet and you will feel you have better tools to guide students in how to improve their receptive skills with fingerspelling.

Video (password required)



Jim Van Manen

Jim Van Manen

Jim is hard of hearing and from a Deaf family and holds a Ph.D. and MA, both from Gallaudet University. He also holds the CI and CT from the RID. Jim is an associate professor at Columbia College Chicago in the ASL Department and is a National presenter on a variety of topics including Fingerspelling, Transformational Practice, Interpreting Humor, Linguistics of ASL, Deaf Art and De’VIA and and several other topics related to those above.