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Science and American Sign Language

A man signing the proposed ASL sign for DNA next to an image of DNA.
Verge Science: The proposed ASL sign for DNA

In the traditional sense of American Sign Language (ASL), much of the vocabulary used in science is fingerspelled. To paraphrase, each word must be spelled out letter by letter, as there are no signs for many scientific terms. Spelling out each word can cause a huge barrier in communication between a group of Deaf scientists and hearing scientists. To solve this problem, a group of Deaf researchers are looking to turn those jargon science terms into a visual representation.

Deaf researchers are reinventing science communication by developing signs that represent the scientific terms, that otherwise doesn’t exist in ASL. Developing these signs will allow for the communication between Deaf scientist and hearing scientist to be more streamlined and understood. To do this, several projects called ASLCORE and ASL Clear aim to create new ASL signs for the scientific community. To learn more about the projects and the barriers that Deaf researchers face, head over to “The Verge” and hear their story: How Deaf Researchers Are Reinventing Science Communication.

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