American Sign Language/Lesson 1

Welcome to Lesson One of the American Sign Language wikibook! Before we even begin the alphabet, which will teach us many of the handshapes required for the rest of this lesson, we must learn where to sign. The area where one produces signs is called the signing space. Most of your signs will be produced in this space - very few are produced elsewhere, though this is sometimes done for effect.

The signing space includes the area in front of your face, your shoulders and the upper chest, and extends about a foot both left and right. It is important to sign in this space, as this allows others to see both your signs and your face simultaneously. Since your facial expression conveys grammatical information (non-manual markers) in addition to emotional affect, it is important that this is possible. If you sign too low, or make very large signs which leave this space, it will be awkward to watch you.