See How the American Sign Language Alphabet Helps You Communicate

American Sign Language Alphabet
The alphabet was introduced to facilitate communication for the deaf. It is being widely used by many, and continues to develop further. Here's more on this...
Sign Language
Sign language alphabet, Introduced by Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and Laurent Clerc at the American School for the Deaf in 1817. It is greatly influenced by the French sign language, and is very similar to it. It is termed as a 'natural language', and includes many aspects of spoken language, like syntax, pragmatics, morphology, phonology, etc. Sign language is used as a primary language by over 500,000 people in the US. Sign language alphabets, also known as Manual Alphabets, are alphabets conveyed through finger signs. They are used to convey or manually spell out letters of a word, that cannot be conveyed otherwise. For example, the title of a book or the name of a person.

Text Description

A: Fold all fingers against the palm, make a fist, and hold the thumb straight.
B: Hold all fingers straight, and fold the thumb against the palm.
C: Hold all fingers in an inward curled position to form a backward 'C'.
D: Hold the index finger straight, pointing upwards, partially fold the middle, little and ring fingers, and touch the tip of the thumb to the middle finger.
E: Fold the thumb across the palm, and touch the tips of the middle, index, and ring fingers between the knuckle and tip of the thumb.
F: Hold the middle, ring, and little fingers straight pointing upwards, and touch the tip of the index finger to the tip of the thumb.
G: Fold the middle, ring, and little fingers down. Hold the thumb and the index finger straight, pointing forward.
H: Fold the ring and little finger down, and fold the thumb over them. Hold the index and middle finger straight pointing forward.
I: Fold the index, middle, and ring fingers down, and fold the thumb over them. Hold the little finger straight pointing upwards.
J: Fold the index, middle, and ring fingers down, and fold the thumb over them. Hold the little finger straight pointing upwards, and twist the hand inwards to form a 'J'.
K: Fold the ring and little fingers down, and hold the index and middle fingers straight, little apart. Hold the thumb to the middle finger pointing upwards.
L: Fold the middle, ring, and little finger down. Hold the index finger and thumb at an angle of 90 degrees.
M: Fold the little finger down, fold the thumb across it, and fold the index, middle, and ring fingers over the thumb.
N: Fold the little and index fingers down, fold the thumb across them, and fold the index and middle finger over the thumb.
O: Partially fold all the fingers, and touch the tip of the thumb to the tip of the index finger to form an 'O'.
P: Fold the ring and little fingers down, and touch the tip of the thumb to the center of the middle finger. Hold the index finger at an angle of 90 degrees to the middle finger, and twist the hand towards the left.
Q: Fold the ring and little fingers down, hold the thumb straight in front of the index finger, and hold the index finger straight pointing forward and parallel to the thumb. Bend down the middle finger across to the thumb, and turn the hand towards the left.
R: Fold the ring and little fingers, and hold them down with the thumb. Cross and hold the index and middle finger.
S: Clench the fist by folding all the fingers down across the palm, and hold the thumb across the index and middle fingers.
T: Clench the fist and hold the thumb between the index and middle fingers.
U: Fold the ring and little fingers, and hold them down by the thumb. Hold the middle and index fingers straight together, pointing upwards.
V: Fold the ring and little fingers, and hold them down by the thumb. Hold the middle and index fingers straight apart, pointing upwards.
W: Touch the tip of the little finger to the tip of the thumb, and hold the index, middle, and ring fingers straight apart, pointing upwards.
X: Fold the middle, ring, and little fingers, and hold them down by the thumb. Hold the index finger slightly bent in a curve.
Y: Fold the middle, ring, and index fingers down across the palm, and hold the little finger and thumb straight wide apart.
Z: Fold the middle, ring, and little fingers down, and fold the thumb across the middle and ring fingers. Hold the index finger straight, and move it in a motion from right to left, then left to right, and forward, and then from right to left.

Certain norms, known as 'Good Form', are followed while using the sign language alphabets.
  • The hands should remain in place, and should not bounce in between letters. The hands can bounce to indicate the repetition of alphabets.
  • The Use of a brief gap between two terms should be made to signify the start and end of the terms.
  • The hand used for signing the alphabets should be placed at shoulder height.
  • While signing acronyms, the alphabets should be moved in a small circle, so that they are not spelled as one word.
  • The Use of long fingernails and jewelry should be avoided.
  • A consistent pace should be maintained.
Sign language alphabets are used commonly among the deaf community, and people dealing with the deaf can also make effective use of this form of communication.