American Sign Language

Please see our ASL video library below for signs important to first responders. You can also visit  to learn even more signs.

General Communicating Techniques

  1. It is important to get the person's attention before speaking. Since deaf people cannot hear usual calls for attention, they may need a tap on the shoulder or other visual signals to gain their attention (i.e. flicker lights on and off when entering a room, wave, etc.)
  2. Maintain eye contact with the deaf person and face them directly when speaking, not the interpreter or signer
  3. Speak slow and clearly - avoid shouting, exaggeration and overemphasis of words
  4. Be aware of bright spotlights or insufficient light
  5. Don't be embarrassed to communicate via pencil and paper

Deaf Sensitivity Training Video for Police Officers video (Deaf Inc.)

First Responder Communication with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Citizens video (Spokane Fire Department)

Hands and Wrists: Learning American Sign Language multiple resources

Signer vs. Interpreter

Signer is someone who is acquiring or has acquired skills in American Sign Language to communicate with deaf people regardless of the course level s/he has taken, with no formal training in interpreting or ASL linguistics.
- Personal employment, family communication, partner, friend, etc.

Qualified & Certified Interpreter is someone trained in an interpreting program and/or is certified by the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID).
- Utmost emphasis on interpreting education, training, certificate advancement and retaining integrity of the profession.

Deaf Access Services Video Remote Interpreting

Deaf Access Services VRI demonstration

Video Interpreting Public Service Announcement

ASL Alphabet PDF

10 Helpful Signs for Firefighters