Expanding the Message

Deaf people communicate differently than hearing people. Hearing may answer, “How are you?” with one word, “Fine.” Deaf may give a summary of each day since you last saw each other. Interpreters need to learn to communicate as Deaf people do. This was one of the topics in this years’ ASL Institute.

English to ASL Expansion Techniques:

1. Contrasting – Tell what it is and what it is not. “Medium, not large, not small, medium.”

2. Faceting – Using a series of synonyms to make the meaning more specific, guiding the viewer to a particular meaning. “I am thrilled – happy, smile, thumbs-up, jump-up-and-down, inspired.”

3. Reiteration – Repeat a sign or signs in exactly the same way they were signed before. “Awesome, I enjoy Deaf Camp, Awesome.”

4. 3-D Space – Using the space around you to set up nouns and their relationships. This may include Role-shifting, Classifiers, and other techniques.

5. Explain by Examples – Using examples to explain an idea. “Makes of vehicles – Ford, Chevy, BMW, Toyota, Mazda, Honda.”

6. Couching – Adding background or context information to make the idea more clear. “Fan Belt – Car, open hood, engine, (belt around pullies).”

7. Describe Then Do – Describe with words, then demonstrate. “Watch Football – (act out being at the game, or watching TV from couch, or half sleeping with a remote in your hand).”

These are easier said than done. Practice one method each week until they all become natural and easy.