Basic ASL for Library Staff Resources

ASL Manual Alphabet (printable .pdf) Fingerspelling practice tool.

Receptive Fingerspelling Practice Apps:

Week 1 Vocabulary Handout (printable .pdf)

Manners Signs 0:55 (video)

Online ASL Dictionaries:

  • (Browsing access free; searching from the site available for subscribers only. To earch this site without an account, go to and search “Signing Savvy” followed by the word you are looking for)


Week 2 Vocabulary Handout (printable .pdf)

Deaf Culture PEPNet Tipsheet by Professor Linda Siple, Assistant Professor Leslie Greer, and Associate Professor Barbra Ray Holcomb, all of the Department of American Sign Language and Interpreting Education, National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY.

Communication Tips from Deaf Cultural Resource Center (Library for Deaf Action)

Guidelines for Effective Communication with Deaf, Late-Deafened, and Hard of Hearing People (Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing)

Asking wh-word questions in ASL (Handspeak)

Recommended Clear Masks:

Special Needs Communication Guide: A handy printable resource you can keep at service desks to assist in communicating with patrons who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing, speak Spanish, or have limited communication skills. This 21-page communication guide was put together by The Library of Fanwood and Scotch Plains (New Jersey, USA), and contains English, Spanish, and fingerspelled words, as well as pictures for common concepts and items in the library setting.

True Biz by Sara Nović. Random House, 2022: This extraordinary novel tells the story of the CODA (hearing child of Deaf adults) headmistress and two Deaf students at a school for the deaf. Nović intertwines their stories, skillfully interjecting background information for readers about ASL, Deaf culture, and linguistics.

Reading Between the Signs: Intercultural Communication for Sign Language Interpreters by Anna Mindess. Nicholas Brealey, 2013: Though the second half of this book is specifically geared to interpreters, the first half is an excellent overview of the American Deaf Culture, American Hearing Culture, and intercultural communication for anyone.



Week 3 Vocabulary Handout (printable .pdf)

Numbers 1 through 10 in ASL (Lifeprint) 7:22 (video)

5 Parameters of ASL (ASL That) 1:05 (video)

Asking a Yes/No Question in ASL (Handspeak)


Week 4 Vocabulary Handout (printable .pdf)

How ASL and English Differ: A Brief Example (Kathy MacMillan) 1:55 (video)

Recommended Reading: Seeing Language in Sign: The Work of William C. Stokoe by Jane Maher




Week 5 Vocabulary Handout (printable .pdf)

The Origin of ASL – A Brief History (ASL That) 3:50 (video)

Caterpillar: ASL Poem by Ian Sanborn (Sorenson) 3:13 (video)

Recommended Reading:


Everyone Here Spoke Sign Language: Hereditary Deafness on Martha’s Vineyard by Nora Ellen Groce. Harvard University Press, 1985

Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte. Scholastic, 2020

The Printer by Myron Uhlberg. Peachtree, 2003.


Week 6 Vocabulary Handout (printable .pdf)

How to Tell Time in American Sign Language (HandSpeak)


Audism Unveiled. Documentary. DawnSignPress, 2008. 57 minutes. Available DVD and streaming.

Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly. Delacorte, 2019.

Through Deaf Eyes. Documentary. PBS, 2007. Stream it free at 


Resources for Learning American Sign Language

Resources about Deaf Culture and History

Resources for Educators and Librarians

Resources for Signing in Storytime or the Classroom

Resources for Finding and Working with Interpreters