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Many signers say they cannot understand a Deaf person’s fast fingerspelling. Most of the time the problem is not their bad fingerspelling, but you fear you will miss some letters and not understand the word or sentence. But once you know the context and begin noticing patterns, you will be more able to understand. Even if you miss a few words, you can still understand the meaning. Try reading this paragraph. Read it aloud quickly. When you do not recognize a word, guess and keep going. Ready? Begin.

I havw this old typwwritwr. It works finw wxcwpt for just onw problwm. Onw of thw lwttwrs is stuck and only typws thw lwttwr nwxt to it. I rwally don’t mind. I could gwt thw problwm fixwd — a typwwritwr rwpairman said hw would do it for frww — but it would bw too much troublw. I would havw to takw thw typwwritwr to thw car, drivw to thw rwpairman’s shop, unload thw typwwritwr, thwn comw back homw. Thw nwxt day I would nwwd to go pick up thw typwwritwr, put it into thw car, drivw back homw and takw thw typwwritwr back into thw housw. Anyway, wvwryonw who rwads my lwttwrs undwrstands what I mwan. In fact, pwoplw know mw by my stylw of typing. By thw way, I am currwntly unwmploywd. Now I havw morw timw to work for thw Lord with my typwwritwr. In fact, I just finishwd typing out a salvation tract. I rwally wxpwct many to bw savwd from thw mwssagw of thw tract. Thwrw is a downsidw to having this problwm with my typwwritwr, though. I typwd a rwsumw and submittwd it to many potwntial wmploywrs. No onw will takw mw swriously. I wondwr why.

Naturally, you must learn to recognize the fingerspelled alphabet. Then be flexible and notice the different ways Deaf people position their hands when fingerspelling. Guess words from the surrounding signs. Relax and let your mind “see” the meaning. You will be surprised how much you can understand. (No one catches every letter!)

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