Quick and Easy Written ASL Emails

One of the amazing things about recent technology like the iPad is how quick and easy written ASL emails can be done. For many years, we’ve struggled with fitting our language to English, resorting to video and scanned sketches. The wealth of the iPod and iPad means we can choose any drawing app to write and send our messages.

Simply write, then select the “Send” menu icon:

Wacom Bamboo Paper screen capture

Wacom Bamboo Paper – Send options

Some apps also enable sharing to Twitter and Facebook:

Handwriting by Cocoabox share screen

Handwriting by Cocoabox app share screen

Here are the apps that we use most frequently:

Wacom Bamboo Paper – Free – Companion to the great Bamboo stylus. The orange one is our favorite!

Jotter – $.99 – A quick, inexpensive app for “jotting” down your thoughts.

Penultimate – $1.29 – Cocoabox’s original Handwriting app is great if you already downloaded it, but Penultimate has more options.

Autodesk Sketchbook Pro – $1.99 – A comprehensive drawing app with the greatest flexibility in writing and sharing. (Options for sharing include Flickr and Dropbox.)

Did we miss something you love? Any Android apps you would recommend? Comment and let us know!

Advice for a Young ASL Student

We recently had a survey, and one of the questions struck a chord with responders:

“If I could take a trip back in time and give myself advice about learning ASL, I would say…”

The answers everyone wrote were too amazing to not share, so Adrean has distilled them and created a poem. Here it is, in English and ASL!

Advice for a Young ASL Student English/ASL

Click to read a larger version.

Advice for a Young ASL Student

This is for you from me
taking an impossible trip through a time machine
I’d tell you many things
I’d tell your parents to learn ASL
for the entire family
you know science has proven Vitamin ASL is great
for a young brilliant mind
like yours

And this is my message to you

have fun, play in this wonderful language
you are in good hands with the Deaf Community
as a welcomed guest
always mind your manners and look to those
beautiful Deaf hands who can mentor you

and you, wonderful curious you
don’t worry about your mistakes
never mind being perfect
go ahead, leap onto sentences
ride them through to ideas
no need to rush, they are you
exploring the mysterious jungles of ASL

drink it in, dive the waters
there is no better time than now
surround yourself with Deaf adventurers
fall off the English map, shake your comforts
barry a bag full of practice
buried in the scents of Deaf history


you’ll be the one taking the impossible trip
your body responsive to thought
(and yes! pouring with lovely classifiers)
telling another you and you

and you.

Advice from survey respondents at ASLwrite.com, compiled and creatively written by Adrean Clark.

5 (More) Easy ASL Words to Write Today

Are you finished with your original 5 words, and still chomping at the bit to write more? Take a step up with the following 5 written ASL words!

How in written ASL with illustration
“How” is an extramanual mark, so it’s a little different from the other words.

Write in written ASL with illustration
Combine “How” and “Write” together and you have a great question to help you get more ASL words to write! Use the fingerspelling chart to complete the question.

Friend in written ASL with illustration
“Friend” is a combination of 2 digits, recognizable and easy to write.

Kissfist in written ASL with illustration
Love what you’re writing so far? “Kiss-fist” it!

Pah in written ASL with illustration
Write “Pah” to show your success and joy!

What words would you like to see animated? Let us know below!

Want to learn more about written ASL? Check out How to Write American Sign Language!

Writing “All Day and All Night”

The ASL words “all day” and “all night” are part of a special class in writing. Normally, one would write them with a digit, but because the location and motion are easily recognizable, the digit is completely dropped.

"All Day" in ASL, drawn and written.

(drawn/written from the perspective of the signer/writer)

This special class is called the dropped indicators. Indicators are marks that summarize and show (or indicate) a signed word or concept. The “dropped” part refers to the unnecessary digit.

Here is the full “all day” word:

All day in written ASL

Night owls go “all night”:

All night in written ASL

Is it possible to combine the two? Yes!

All day and all night in written ASL

Another way to write “all day and all night”:

Alternative way to write all day and all night

Do the visuals help you see the words better? Let us know in the comments below!

To learn more about indicators, check out How to Write American Sign Language.

ASL on the Road

What if the US Government officially recognized American Sign Language, and implemented ASL in essential road and information signs across the country?

This is not unusual as many countries have a multi-lingual policy. Here are a few examples:

Bilingual Road Signs from Around the World

Now, take a trip through a bilingual ASL/English country:

ASL-English Men's Bathroom Sign

A bilingual ASL-English bathroom sign.

Stop sign in ASL

Written ASL alone can work!
(Do you see another ASL-English sign?)

Gallaudet University Front Entrance with signs in written ASL.

Gallaudet University in the near future?

To learn more about written ASL, check out How to Write American Sign Language!

Image credits:

Bautzen photograph by j budissin. Gallaudet front entrance photograph by Daniel Lobo. Brittany, Montreal, and Jersey signs are in the public domain, from Wikimedia Commons. Images modified by Adrean Clark.

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