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How To Learn Sign Language

Why Use ASL When You Can Talk? | ASL

[marker writing] [Pokemon game sound] Hello! Good morning! What’s up? I’m sick today. My throat hurts. My name is Rikki Poynter [sign name]. I’m a mainstreamed deaf person who has been learning ASL for the last two years. Last year, I made a video called… Actually, I forgot the title but it was about my interpreters cancelling on me. I needed interpreters for an event and they cancelled on me at the last minute. That video was in ASL. I was voice off in that video. I read a comment on that video that said something like, “Since you can talk, why not talk?” My answer is that, yes, I can talk and I have good speech, but if I’m using ASL, ASL doesn’t use voice. So why would I want to voice? SimCom is a bad thing to do. I don’t like using SimCom. So… I don’t do it. My first language is English. I like English. I like yelling, yelling swear words out loud. It’s fun, but I like ASL too. If I’m practicing ASL, I’m not going to SimCom. The only time I SimCom is if I’m with hearing and deaf people in the same room. Or if I’m livestreaming. But in videos, no. I’ve sometimes voiced a few words in videos, but… whatever. But I won’t do it in a full ASL video. So a message to you hearing folks out there: You guys have a lot of access in this world. You don’t need me to voice for you. I always have captions on these videos. Okay, there is one circumstance. Blind viewers benefit from captions or a voiceover, but I can’t do that. It’s difficult for me to do my own voiceover. So I have transcripts available if a video is in ASL. I like ASL and when I practice ASL, I’m not voicing. If you’re not a fan of that, I’m sorry. Is there anything else that I need to say? I don’t think so. I’m still fluent in English, so, yes, I will still voice in some videos. But I’m also going to do some videos in ASL. If you don’t like that, you’ll have to get over it. Just understand that there will always be captions on my videos, okay? If you want to follow me on my social media, links to that will be down below. If you want to support my work, links to Patreon and Ko-fi will be down below. I [try to] upload every Monday and Thursday. And I’ll see you later. Bye!

56 Replies to “Why Use ASL When You Can Talk? | ASL”

  • I found your channel through Chronically Jacquie in the comments on one of her videos. I've been enjoying your videos and if you or your followers like science type videos, there are quite a few channels with captions on most of their videos, and the videos that don't have captions, the autocaptions are actually pretty good. Granted I don't know if my hearing and lipreading is just making up for it. You can look at my subscriptions, or go to Scishow and look at the associated channels there.

  • I've been learning Auslan (Australian Sign Language) for a few years, and I just can't concentrate if I'm talking and signing at the same time.

  • I am hearing and I love watching you sign. I am Polish and I wish more deaf people made videos in Polish Sign Language as I'm trying to learn it but there aren't as many resources as for ASL. I'm going to be a dispensing chemist so I hope I'll be able to communicate in sign language with my deaf patients.

  • Great video as always, Rikki. If anyone has a problem of you not voicing when signing, too bad. Every deaf person has their preferred means of communication and I have mine. I voice, but currently learning ASL.

    Take care and be safe.

    New blog post today – Serving The Deaf In Restaurants


  • I've been profoundly deaf for 11 months and am also late deaf, I struggle with the issue of using ASL over being using my verbal skills. I am the only deaf member in my family. Most of society does not sign so it sometimes makes me consider just staying oral. I am taking sign language lessons one on one and can sign about the level of a small child now but as you know its difficult. I sign when I talk but it slows me down trying to find the sign to fit the words which is not always so easy. I enjoy your videos and I feel like I have a ton in common with you.

  • Can someone please explain what SimCom is? I've tried googling it but all I got was things for the Sims game and something about airplanes.

  • As someone who has, except the few video I've seen from you, no experience or real knowledge of the deaf community or sign language, two questions came into my mind.
    1. How much do mimics carry meaning? Are the face expressions part of the sign or just additional help to deliver the message?
    2. As far as I understood, ASL stands for American Sign Language. How different is it to other sign languages? Do speakers(?) of different SL's understand each other to an extend or is it like a completely different language and two deaf persons would need a translator just like with English and any other language?

  • I guess ASL does come in handy when it hurts to talk, eh? PS: Get it…? Handy…? Sorry, you've probably heard that joke about a million times 😅😂 I had to

  • Good on you for using ASL even if you can speak. My one question is: What is SimCom? I've never heard of it, and I'm rather curious. Thanks heaps, and keep up the great work!

  • It's been too many years since I've interacted with Deaf, so my ASL is rusty but YOUR signs are so clear and easy to understand compared to most Deaf people. Also, the only reason I've Simcom'd is same as you; mixed company. Otherwise I can't stand it. ASL & English are totally different languages. I like speaking proper English and I like signing native ASL. (is that what you call the sign language that has no english syntax whatsoever?) Anywhoo- I've gotta make time and effort to circulate more.

  • I love your ASL videos! People don't realize how hard it is to Sim-Com and how it's not completely accurate. I sim-com sometimes for a short time or in an informal situation, but people have to understand it's not true ASL!

  • I'm hard of hearing and I feel that SimCom is most accessible to me (at this point in my hearing level and English comprehension level) when Hearing people are interacting with me in person, because I'm still learning ASL and it adds to my lipreading experience (which I lean on a lot because I can sometimes get by and usually at least hear when people are speaking if not what they're saying). I don't have any IRL friends who know more than a few words in ASL but I'm trying to help show them videos from and other stuff to help us learn together. Shit is super slow moving but me and my partner at least know way more than we used to, and things are improving.

    I think it's really inappropriate for people to consider SimCom to be in the same category as ASL, because it's just a visual way of transcribing English by translating a few words every now and again. It's hard to understand context or tone etc with SimCom and so much of ASL is lost when you degrade it into being only hand-based. It's like having Google translate in its earliest iterations, without any grammar consideration, and if it were programmed by people who only used a translation dictionary to translate. And unless someone specifically specifies that this is the most accessible way to communicate for them, it's really shitty to ask someone to compromise their language like that.

  • Just a random unrelated question. Have you ever witnessed or experienced any hearing/deaf challenges when it comes to for example playing board games or playing cards?

  • So, I personally want to learn ASL. I am a hearing person, but I just feel like it is one of those important things that you should learn some of in life. I really appreciate your videos with captions because I can make connections between what movements mean what words. I doubt I could repeat them, but I could understand some. Thank you a lot, Rikki

  • I love ASL vids cause I'm learning ALS and I have no one to practice with so this makes me soooo happy! ❤️❤️❤️

  • Hey Rikki thanks for sharing. Great video as always hope you are well. 🙂 I love watching ASL hands 🙂 more access for all. Keep it up.

  • So I'm hearing and I know some ASL but I'm not great with it. It might help if you say in the title or something when a video is in ASL or not so I know if I need CC or not. Love you Rikki! 🙂

  • As a deaf person, I'm constantly kinda being pushed toward learning sign, but as an Australian, there's only 14,000 people who know the local sign language (Auslan) – I'm kinda at the point where I'm like "what's the point of sign over say, texting or IMing?" and I can't get past it

  • Thank you for your videos. Im partially deaf, with tinnitus too. I found your videos very well presented and full of good info, thank you form england.

  • I have picked up a few signs from your videos, so besides your normal (fantastic, btw) content, it's cool in that way as well. I seriously love your videos and hope you feel better!

  • This is something I've always wondered. When people sign they tend to move their mouth in ways that look like words but that aren't actually the words they're signing. Does this add meaning/emphasis to the sign, or is it just facial expressions? I know that facial expressions are much more important and prominent in sign than in spoken language but it doesn't seem like just that? I dunno maybe I'm missing something. I'm trying to learn BSL and can't really find any info on this aspect of it!

  • I usually SimCom when I talk to my mom, she know a little bit of sign language from raising me, and I teach her sometimes. I tend to sign when I'm around deaf people and out of habit my voice goes mute because I went to a deaf school and I usually do SimCom around friends that can hear and sign. So I really appreciate your videos and want to say, keep making videos and teaching others about the D/deaf community.

  • Hey Rikki, I am hearing, but I am also Autistic (plus other physical disabilities). There are some of us in the Autistic community with auditory sensory issues, executive function problems, who are nonverbal completely or sometimes, and with language processing issues that are learning ASL or already use it as a tool. Some are deaf and some like me, are totally hearing.

    Personally, because I am Autistic, (very beginning learner of ASL,) ASL has been this breakthrough in communication for me, as if something was unlocked inside my brain. For me, it feels like a more natural way to communicate. Verbal communication, just finding the words, is increasingly a struggle, from brain to mouth, expressing the idea in that way. ASL is like taking out the middle man.

    I am not very active on YouTube creatively these days, moreso on Instagram and my podcast. If you would ever be interested in this as a topic, I would love to collaborate.

    I run a nonprofit called Frill-Ability, Inc. You can find us at

    Thank you for the work that you do. It's an integral piece to the disability community.

  • Hey,

    My daughter was born with profound hearing loss, which worsened over the years. She can still hear, and loves talking. She doesn't stop, and she refuses to sign. As a mom, I vowed to learn ASL, and give her every outlet that I could to make sure that she had success. Because she refuses to sign though it makes it really hard to practice ASL with her, and none of the rest of my family is learning because she isn't wanting to learn.

    I have a deaf mentor that comes to my home, and I am learning vocab, and sentence structure, but feel completely inadequate when holding conversations with people in the deaf community so it makes me feel very isolated when I go to events because I'm trying to talk to my daughter, while signing and it gets to be difficult.

    My question is, do you know of any other Youtubers that use ASL solely? I am trying to get used to accents, and learn sentence structure further, and I love your videos and figure maybe if I can open up my channels that it will help me to eventually feel somewhat more comfortable with going to events.

    Thank you in advance!

  • Is the grammaer and sentence structure of ASL the same / similar to English? I only know a bit of German Sign Language and the sentence structure (and grammar) is very different to German, so I don't even know how I would speak german and sign at the same time.

  • i like when you use ASL. 🙂 its been a while. can use it in next videos? please:) i am from . Australia and watching you use ASL helps me learn ASL better

  • I see a lot of people SimCom at my college and on TV. Is it not accurate, or what makes it bad?
    Thank you for these videos

  • Thanks for the captioning. I love your ASL only videos, but since I don't know ASL, I can only understand the basics (I know Auslan).
    The 'if you can talk, why talk?' comment irritated me, for many of the same reasons as you, but also because if a hearing person was bilingual, and they wanted to make a video in French one day and English the next, people wouldn't give them crap. pinkchocolatebreak does her videos in about 5 languages, and I have to use CC for them but so what? It's awesome.

  • I wish more people would learn ASL, period. When I'm in a loud situation, I'd rather sign than shout. A couple of years ago, I had a really bad case of laryngitis and found myself instinctively trying to sign to people before realizing that no, most aren't going to understand. What I'm saying is that it's an incredibly useful language even for hearing people and I wish it were more widely taught. That said, I get so little practice, I think I will need to take some classes to try and improve. I work not far at all from the American College for the Deaf, and they offer community courses, which I should look into.

  • I'm still very new to ASL (a year and a half in, but haven't been consistent until a few months ago). I would sign a sentence and then say it (when speak to other hearing people) and someone asked me can I just speak and sign at the same time. I was like….actually no, I can't. Different sentence structure and my goal is to speak ASL as accurately as I can.

  • May I ask what the sign is you use at the 2:29 minute mark is? You use it when you say “I won’t do it in a full asl video”. It looks like you are throwing something away or saying anyway, or something. I am learning asl now and I cannot figure out this sign! My hearing is starting to fail quickly and I want to learn now.

  • Your awesome and I've been learning PSE for almost a years now, I definitely have learned a lot from your vidoes
    Keep up the good work Rikki

    plus you seem like you would be hella cool to hang out with

  • I can't believe people would be upset with you for not voicing during some videos. That'd be like: I am bilingual in Spanish and English. English is my first language, but sometimes I like to speak Spanish with other bilingual people because it is fun. And sometimes I'm around someone for whom English is their second language (or they don't speak much English if any) and so I switch to Spanish. What I almost never do is translate for myself. The only time I'd ever do that would be if there was a monolingual English speaker and a monolingual Spanish speaker in the same room and I was trying to communicate with both of them. I feel like it's the same with ASL. And, since it has a completely different grammatical structure than English, I'd imagine it's rather difficult to sign and speak simultaneously, no?

  • I am working on a presentation for school and one of the questions we have are what are the pros and cons of using ASL vs Speaking. Can you do a video on this subject? I haven't really had success on finding any articles or research but I found your videos 🙂

  • I’m a hearing person and I actually think it’s cool that you sign in some of your videos! You’re making me want to learn ASL. I’ve known deaf people in the past and it annoyed me that I didn’t know how to communicate with them (without using my phone to type out things for them to read). I hate having those barriers… that’s part of the reason why I’m learning German as well, so I can take down that language barrier between us. I should learn ASL! I have ADHD and I’m left-handed, so I know how frustrating it is when the world isn’t made for you.

  • So true I agree with you! I am hearing and create makeup videos in Sign Language and im not comfortable with Simcom. It distorts my thinking and sticking to ASL Grammar. I do it when im with both Hearing and Deaf individuals together. I love your channel you rock

  • I'm a hearing person who is learning ASL. I look at ASL vids in order to help me learn ASL. Unfortunately, when you refuse to voice, I have to read your captions. This means I cannot look at your ASL. Which means that rather than learning ASL from your vids, I'm only reading captions. Of course you have no responsibility to help people learn ASL, but it would be nice if you did.

  • Hearing and learning ASL, can’t say I understand why someone would ask the question, it’s been great learning ASL and looking in on your point of view I understand the benefits of using it even though it’s not your first language, definitely a lot more accessible in terms of clarity for you

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