Talking with Your Hands, Listening with Your Eyes: A Complete Photographic Guide to American Sign Language

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After English and Spanish, it is the third most common language in North America. Over 22 million people use it to communicate. It has its own beauty, its own unmistakable form, and its own inherent culture. It is American Sign Language (ASL), the language of the deaf.

Gabriel Grayson has put together a book that makes signing accessible, easy, and fun. Using almost 1,400 photographs, he has created a comprehensive primer to the techniques, words,

and phrases of signing. Each word or phrase is accompanied by a photo or series of photos that show hand and body motions and facial expressions. Along with the images are step-by-step instructions for forming the sign, as well as a helpful “Visualize” tip that connects the sign with its meaning for easier recall.

After examining the fascinating history and nature of both sign language and the deaf community, Talking With Your Hands explains signing basics, covering such topics as handshapes, fingerspelling, signing etiquette, and more. The remaining chapters provide over 1,700 words and phrases. Throughout the book, informative insets focus on fascinating aspects of deaf history, deaf culture, and significant deaf personalities.

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Editorial Reviews

Starred Review Booklist
"The format and content of Grayson's guide totally demystify the process of learning sign language...Grayson's vast experience as a sign language teacher...shines forth in this outstanding book...[an] invaluable resource."
Publishers Weekly
Grayson, chair of the New School University's department of sign language, created this massive reference in the hopes of "making it easier to understand, duplicate and remember the vocabulary" of American Sign Language, which is used by an estimated 500,000 deaf people in the U.S. and Canada. Grayson can hear, but was born to parents who were both deaf, and his first means of trained communication was sign language. The book covers more than 900 signs that represent nearly 1,800 words and phrases, with signs grouped by topic, e.g., common and polite phrases; mealtime and food; school and education; careers, jobs and the workplace;and the body and health. One or more photos of professional signers demonstrating the sign formation accompany a discussion of each sign. Grayson provides instructions for each word, explaining the hand shape, the position in front of the body where the sign is made and the type of movement involved in expressing the word. Perhaps most useful is the "visualize" portion of each entry, which often explains the essence of the sign. For example, when signing the word "farmer," which involves moving one's hand across the chin and then down the chest, visualize yourself depicting "the bushy beard of a farmer." Although the photos are on the small side (about two inches square), Grayson's instructions are detailed and clearly written. Especially valuable are the educational sidebars on what it's like to live as a deaf person in the U.S., including a suggested reading list on the history of deaf culture, a discussion of how technology has created more career options for deaf people and a list of American films featuring deaf protagonists. Index. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Grayson, who is hearing but was born to deaf parents, is currently chair of the sign language department at the New School in New York City and a leading interpreter in the area. His first book is a fine and unique addition to the American Sign Language (ASL) field, featuring photographs instead of drawings; visualization tips to recall signs; fantastic tidbits, trivia, and cultural/ historical references; and an index that pairs words with their opposites. Like other similar works, such as The American Sign Language Handshape Dictionary, Grayson includes an introduction to ASL and deaf culture in the United States. The signs (900 compared with the 1600 signs in the aforementioned title) are organized by topic, and the format of the book is clear and uncramped. Although this volume is being marketed as a complete guide, even the author writes that it is "not meant to be an exhaustive dictionary" and is more suitable for circulation. Buy an ASL dictionary for the reference shelf, but do consider this excellent work for your public library language collection.-Andy Wickens, King Cty. Lib. Syst., WA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-An outstanding, user-friendly resource for those interested in learning ASL. Signs are grouped into chapters based on their meanings. The meanings and synonyms are in large, blue print; descriptions of the hand shape, position, and movement are set in smaller, black type. One or two black-and-white, 2" x 2" photographs of the entire torso show the beginning and end of a sign; superimposed arrows indicate additional movement. These pictures are clear enough for new signers to follow. Additional photos at the bottom of the page show only hand shapes, making clear what might not be visible due to the angle of the primary illustrations. Signers shown represent diverse cultural backgrounds. The index enables readers to locate both the desired sign and its antonym. Throughout, boxed inserts present thorough, insightful articles on such subjects relating to deaf culture as medical conditions and assistive technology. This information alone makes the book a wonderful resource.-Claudia Moore, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780757000072
  • Publisher: Square One Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/28/2003
  • Pages: 392
  • Sales rank: 114,504
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Although Gabriel Grayson can hear, he is uniquely qualified to have authored this book. Born to parents who were both completely deaf, Grayson’s first means of trained communication was sign language. The story of his childhood was the basis for an ABC made-for-television movie. Professor Grayson is the chairperson of the Department of Sign Language at New School University in New York City.

In addition, he is a principal court-appointed sign language interpreter for the NYC judicial system, and conducts sign language tours at the American Museum of Natural History.

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Table of Contents

How to Use This Book
1. The Basics
2. People, Relationships, and Pronouns
3. Actions
4. Home and Clothing
5. Food and Mealtime
6. Time and Days of the Week
7. Numbers, Money, and Quantity
8. Seasons, Nature, and Animals
9. School and Education
10. Careers and the Workplace
11. Sports and Leisure
12. Travel, Location, and Direction
13. Cities, States, Countries, and Governments
14. The Body and Health
15. Thoughts and Feelings
16. Religion
17. Descriptions
18. Conversation and Common Phrases
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2009

    Basic American Sign Language in Well-Organized, Clearly-Illustrated Form

    This is an ASL (American Sign Language) teaching book for the beginner, as I am. The best thing about the book is the fact that many equivalent words are given with each sign. The book is not intended as a dictionary. The signs are grouped by topic: Introduction; The Basics; Conversing - Common & Polite Phrases; Pronouns, People, & Relationships; Actions; ... In order to find the sign for a specific word, one must always consult the Index.
    I know the signs for the individual letters and numbers pretty well and am beginning to obtain some speed in "finger-spelling." My current knowledge of actual signing is very limited but I am very pleased with this book compared with some others from which I have also tried to learn ASL. I highly recommend this book to all beginning students of ASL.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2003

    Clear information, in a clever and attractive format.

    This very helpful guide, which is organized by topic, was written by the hearing son of two deaf parents. Grayson has been working as both an interpreter and a sign language instructor for many years. His keen interest in REALLY helping people grasp the subject is very apparent. The book's clarity, breadth of coverage, and hundreds of photographs make it stand out. The insets are eye-openers into deaf culture.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2009

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    Posted January 23, 2013

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    Posted April 18, 2010

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