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Body Language and ASL

By Kelly Baumann
April 6, 2009
Body Language and ASL

Believe it or not a class like ASL can benefit your life in many surprising ways. I have found that even if you never use the actual signs again after taking the course, the use of body language that you are taught can improve your ability to date, get a job and even strengthen an existing relationship. Body language includes our: mouth, eyebrows and cheeks all the way down to our elbows, bellies and feet. All these body parts indicate our underlying feelings and intentions. With the proper knowledge you can use the full potential and force of body language to make situations and experiences have your desired outcome.

If you have never thought about the connection sign language has with body language simply read the Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health definition of American Sign Language, "ASL is an autonomous linguistic system independent of English. It is a visual/spatial/gestural language that is very expressive and dependent on visual cues of the hands, body and face." (Moore, 2009) I bet you have noticed before that you can easily tell what a conversation is consisting of between two people even if you cannot 'hear' it. Just by watching a couple through a window you can tell if their conversation is casual, an argument or one of endearment.

In American Sign Language facial expressions and gestures are extremely important. In fact without the facial expressions some signs would have no variation, an example of this would be the sign for "Know" and "Don't Know" require facial movements to convey which one the individual means. (Vicars, 2006) Similarly in real life situations such as an interview body language conveys exactly what you are trying to say, even more so than the actual words that come from your speaking voice.

In an interview bad posture reflects low self esteem and a general dislike for your surroundings and company. I think that everyone will agree that if you are in an interview this is not the signs you want to send. According to everything from your eye contact to your fidgety feet to your handshake make up the interviewers mind in the end. (Harrison, 2009) With a little practice and awareness of the power of body language you could change the entire outcome! Many people find that they do not have successful dates and feel misunderstood. Your nervous behavior could be misconstrued by the other individual as a distrust in them or it may appear as if you have somewhere else to be.

When using American Sign Language you must engage in constant eye contact, when speaking this is helpful (especially on a date) because it builds feelings of trust and intimacy. Eye contact shows that you are interested and listening, you are an active member of the conversation. Everyone can benefit from the instruction in body language that ASL classes provide. Try some of these techniques today!

Works Cited:

Harrison, Ian. (2009, April 05). "What Your Body Language Says About You." Retrieved: 05 Apr, 2009.

Moore, Timothy E. "American sign language". Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health. 05 Apr, 2009. <>

Vicars, Bill. (2006, August 30). "Facial Expressions." Retrieved: 05, Apr, 2009.


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