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Why don’t Deaf people seem to understand me when I sign or interpret?” Part of the answer is placement. Simply put, sign placement is separating people, places, things, or ideas by placing them in different locations. This makes it easy to see their differences. It also helps the signer to clearly reference them later.

Placement can be used to show things like:

● The arrangement of objects, as furniture in a room
Various people involved in a conversation
Movement of people or vehicles
● The location of places in a story or dialogue
Different ideas which may be later referenced

Songs, sermons, and even church announcements can all become more clear with proper and purposeful placement. Do not just sign the words, but show the meaning. Separate people, places, and things by assigning them a place.

Try signing this example. First, only sign the words with no placement. God Father, God Son, God Holy Spirit. Three in one. — Now sign using placement. (Center) God Father, (Right) God Son, (Left) God Holy Spirit. (Start Right, then move Left) Three (move the “3” back to the center) Trinity. Notice how much more clear the concept becomes. — Another example: Sign (Left) Egypt, Israel Group. Hold the group, then show the group moving to the right, as on a journey. (Right) Arrive Red Sea. — This is much better than only signing the words, “The Israelites in Egypt journeyed until they arrived at the Red Sea.” — These simple examples are limited, but try to never just sign in one location. Visualize each situation, be creative, move, and purposefully place your signs. Just remember, when you put something somewhere, remember where you put it! (Smile.)

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