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"How do you eat and sign at the same time?"

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 pieces into
her mouth while she was receiving signs ... or go hungry."
- Jim


Dear Jim,
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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