American Sign Language (ASL) and la Langue des Signes Quebecoise (LSQ) (Part One)


In this section, we will become familiar with American Sign Language (ASL) and Quebec Sign Language, la langue des signes quebecoise (LSQ). As a media maker, you want to bring stories to your audience that encourages them to think about society in ways they never have. By providing ASL/LSQ videos to accompany audio and video, people who use ASL as their first language can be engaged, entertained and included. Part Two of this module will introduce you to sound artist Christine Sun Kim, who uses ASL, drawing and performance to indicate sound and vibration.

Developing an Understanding:

In Canada, there are two official sign languages: American Sign Language (ASL) and Quebec Sign Language, la langue des signes quebecoise (LSQ) (Canadian Association of the Deaf, 2016).

ASL is the primary sign language used by Deaf people in English-speaking Canada, while LSQ is most commonly used by Deaf people in Quebec and other francophone communities in Canada.

ASL includes hand and finger gestures as well as face and body movements and expressions. Words in English are borrowed through “fingerspelling,” though it should be noted that ASL is a different language to English, with a different grammar, sentence structure, and vocabulary. Some Canadian provinces formally recognize Sign Language as the language of Deaf people. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities also formally recognizes Sign languages and confirms these languages’ rights and protections and equal status to spoken/written languages in countries including Canada (Canadian Association of the Deaf, 2016).

ASL and LSQ are recognized minority languages in Ontario in legislation, education, and legal proceedings (Legislative Assembly of Ontario, 2007).

While Anglophone Canadians tend to use ASL, there is The Canadian Dictionary of ASL (2002), edited by Carole Sue Bailey and Kathy Dolby, which was developed in conjunction with the Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf. It contains over 8700 signs, many of which are unique to Canada (Bailey & Dolby, 2002).

The Canadian Association of the Deaf recognizes both ASL and LSQ as the only official languages of Deaf Canadians. That said, Parisot and Rinfret (2012) suggest that there are three other Sign Languages used in Canada: the Inuit Sign Language (Schuit, Baker, and Pfau 2011), the Plain Indians Sign Language (Davis 2010) and the Maritimes Sign Language (Yoel 2009) (Bakken Jepsen, DeClerk, Lutalo-Kiingi & McGregor, 2012).

illustration of gears in motion


Using the ASL alphabet below, click the letters to fingerspell a word that is 12 characters or less.

asl hand sign letter A
asl hand sign letter b
asl hand sign letter c
asl hand sign letter d
asl hand sign letter e
asl hand sign letter f
asl hand sign letter g
asl hand sign letter h
asl hand sign letter i
asl hand sign letter j
asl hand sign letter k
asl hand sign letter l
asl hand sign letter m
asl hand sign letter n
asl hand sign letter o
asl hand sign letter p
asl hand sign letter q
asl hand sign letter r
asl hand sign letter s
asl hand sign letter t
asl hand sign letter u
asl hand sign letter v
asl hand sign letter w
asl hand sign letter x
asl hand sign letter y
asl hand sign letter z

Your finger spelling:

full alphabet sign

Consolidating Our Knowledge

The ASL alphabet in motion:

If you are interested in learning more ASL and/or LSQ, there are many resources online to get you started and help you practice. Please find a few suggestions under Online Resources at the end of this module.