For all you lefties out there – this is no big deal for you, but for a right hand dominant signer who has lost a lot of the use of right left upper arm and shoulder – this is a huge deal.
For non-signers, you may not understand either, but when American Sign Language (ASL) does not take place around the waist. It takes place around the face, head, shoulders, and upper body most of the time. When you can’t move your arm without pain that varies from OW! to Aieeeee!!!! it’s a problem. Actually, it is a huge and almost insurmountable problem.
I am beginning to realize that I’m going to have to start signing using my left hand. It is a cross dominance issue. I’m right eyed and right footed, but learned to be left footed when working with dogs, so it can be done – only I don’t use my foot to communicate with.
Finger spelling is going to be a trip. Signers have strong hands from all the use their hands get – and my strong hand is my right one, not my left one. (sighing) I remember practicing and practicing with my right hand and having a sore hand. Now I wish I’d worked on both at the same time, but we always hear to use our dominant hand. Only my dominant hand is hard to get up to the target space used for most sign, and many motion based signs are flatly just painful.
It is not that I can’t sign left-handed. It is that it is going to be like starting all over again in so many ways. I’m bummed. It could be worse – I could have entirely lost my arm or lost 100% of the function in it.
For those of you I sign with, have patience with me… I’m going to have to crawl before I can learn to walk. My right arm isn’t coming back online any time soon…