Learn SignWriting for American Sign Language/Handshapes

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Basic Handshapes[edit | edit source]

In ASL, there are about 150 distinct handshapes. In SignWriting, the handshape symbols are all derived from 3 basic handshapes:

  • Closed fist
    • The S and index finger handshapes are both derived from the closed fist, since the fingers touch the palm in both cases.
  • Open fist
    • The O and D handshapes are derived from the open fist, since the fingers contact each other, not the palm.
  • Flat palm
    • The claw or 5-hand handshapes are derived from the flat palm, since the fingers do not contact each other or the palm.

Orientation[edit | edit source]

  • The palm of the hand is represented in white; the back of the hand in black.
  • Signs in the wall plane have no space at the knuckle joint; signs in the floor plane have a small space present.

Combined, these provide easy identifiers for the hand's position in space.