Think In Pictures

A few years ago, I watched a young deaf man tell us his adventures. He was low-verbal (no education), although he knew some sign. Two other hearing deaf workers and I were watching this young man tell us his story. He used no words and few signs. Most of his story was told using picture language. That is, he acted what he did and saw rather than saying or signing it. When he was finished one of the hearing people blurted out, “I can never understand anything that boy says!” That other hearing worker reverse interpreted exactly what the boy had said. Why the difference? One of the workers was looking for words in his story. The other worker understood his picture language. Picture language means that the boy acted out the story.

Sign Language is a language of pictures, not a language of words. Remember the signs are made largely because they are pictures of the action, thing, person, or idea they represent. (Example: Boy is because a boy wears a baseball hat. In Thailand, boy is made by rubbing the cheeks because of the beard.) We must learn and use these pictures so we can be better understood and understand them better.

Many hearing deaf teachers tell me they have a hard time understanding 2 deaf talking together. They look for the words, but skip over the facial expressions and the picture language. That is also why sometimes the deaf cannot understand us. We are using words rather than the pictures of Sign Language.

Think in pictures. Think of a Bible story. For example, we will use David and Goliath. Think of the story, but do not use words in your mind. Think the story through by seeing the pictures of it in your mind. When you see the story in pictures in your mind, sign and act the story. By thinking in a picture language, you will be teaching as a story is seen in pictures, not words.

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