Sign Language

Sign Language | Visuals (Gestures or Signs) Support Communication | Body Movements, Hand Motions, & Gestures | American Sign Language (ASL)

Visuals (Gestures or Signs) Support Communication

We should support people to have the most successful communication possible. This may mean using a variety of modes, or ways, of accomplishing communication goals (e.g., waving, writing, and/or speaking to interact socially)

Be sensitive to the person's learning style - explore how they can best understand others and express themselves.
  • Choose the form or method of communication that is most appropriate for the person. If they use mostly gestures, you (as the partner) should use a lot of gestures too.
  • According to KNI training information:
    • "Too many supporters stick to verbal communication because that is what they do best, when the person might better understand non-verbal cues."

Movements help with Understanding

Many people learn best when they see and hear the message. Adding visuals, like body movements, gestures, or sign language, can give the person more information.

Movements help with Expression

Adding movements to verbal speech engages both sides of our brain. Language skills (such as words) pull from the left hemisphere of the brain, whereas visuals (like hand motions) come from the right hemisphere. This can help a person achieve better communication results than relying on just one single form of communication (e.g., talking alone).

Body Movements, Hand Motions, & Gestures

Hand movements and gestures include using the hands to point, motion, or signal.

Why use Gestures?

American Sign Language (ASL)

American Sign Language is a form of no-tech AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) support.

Why use American Sign Language?

American Sign Language (ASL) is a form of no-tech AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) support.

ASL Resources

  • Click here to view a handout with basic ASL vocabulary (alphabet, numbers, colors, common phrases).
  • ASL University ( offers a free online sign language dictionary and lessons. ASL signs are shown with illustrations and/or videos.
  • has online video dictionaries and a quiz mode to help learn American Sign Language. It also offers a "Conversational Dictionary" that supports use of signs in common phrases.
  • has a "Sign of the Week" e-mail and a free video dictionary of common signs.

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