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Many signers seem to think that signing fast is a badge of honor. Have you ever met someone who could sign faster than you could understand? Example:
Beginner: I want to sign fast like a Deaf person.
Deaf Person: Please sign slower. You sign sloppy fast.
Interpreter: I can sign every word as fast as it is said.
Deaf Person: I do not understand fast signed words. Please interpret for me in my language.

(I admit making up that story.) It is a good principle to never sign faster than 80% of your ability. So what do you do when the speaker talks too fast? In one word, INTERPRET. When they talk fast, you sign slow and with purpose. When you interpret, you adapt, condense, clarify, and simplify the message. Consider what happens when you sign slowly….

  1. You have time to think about what is being said.
  2. You can consider what is being said and the best way to restructure the message in ASL.
  3. You can adjust your signs to match the person or people to whom you are signing.
  4. You do not feel as much pressure.
  5. You can consider the faces and feedback from the person to whom you are signing and rephrase or repeat as needed.
  6. You have more time to “feel” the message and add appropriate facial expression and facial grammar.

Relax. Take it easy. Slow down. Take your time. Do not hurry. — Watch Deaf people understand you better!

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