As you learn sign language, you might bump into deaf man or woman at work, school or on the street. Let them know that you sign. If the setting is appropriate and the deaf person has time, they will be happy to chat with you. If they are in a hurry, the person might excuse himself or herself. In any case, it is important to let the deaf person be in the lead in setting the communication mode.
Deaf people are very encouraging of new signers and will be patient with your signing skills. If the conversation is stalling, the Deaf one may switch to another strategy to help along the communication.
If signing in ASL doesn’t work, the Deaf one may use easily understood gestures to get their message across, pointing or acting things out.
This strategy is a sure and clear way to convey a message. When communicating with someone they know, a deaf person can use email or instant messaging. For “face-to-face” communication messages can be typed out on a pager and shown to the hearing person, or if needed, notes can be written back and forth on a piece of paper.
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