Jim writes: "How does one eat & sign at the same time? It
seems you'd either be having to watch the other person 100% of the
time or be using both hands to sign and fingerspell. My daughter
says at her Deaf social dinners, she learned to buy a salad she
could eat with her fingers and grab without looking at to shove
her mouth while she was receiving signs ... or go hungry."
What?!? No dressing on the salad? Actually it is quite easy to
engage in a signed conversation while eating since you can chew and
sign at the same time. You just glance down at your plate from time
to time to track your next bite of food.
Also, no, you don't need to always be using both hands to sign
everything. Skilled signers understand each other quite well
even when the other person is signing "one-handed." For
example, when signing the word "RIGHT" (as in correct) you don't
have to "whack" the dominant hand onto the non-dominant hand, rather
you can whack the dominant hand onto some other available surface or
even just "the air." You will see skilled signers shoving a
sandwich into our faces with our non-dominant hand while we whack
the table (gently so as not to spill the drinks) with our dominant
hand (in an "index finger" handshape) to sign "Right!" -- as a form
of "active listening."
With a little (or a lot) of practice you will be able to sign while
eating and drinking. Note: Do not begin your practice
with a piping hot cup of coffee. Start with water and work
your way up.
-- Dr. Bill
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