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Symbol Font for ASL

How can you read and write American Sign Language?

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During this exciting time, while other forms of writing ASL are growing in popularity, and their digital options are being explored, this project attempts to provide simple, alternative system that is computer-friendly.


If you do not see the fingerspelling handshapes above, try viewing this page in the latest Chrome, Firefox, or Safari browser.

Download & Discuss

You can Download the font.

You can discuss this project and comment at

I want to know what you think!


Start learning with Lesson 1, or check out the ASL Dictionary that uses this font.

Hey look! Handshapes!

The hand symbols above are part of a font called Symbol Font For ASL.

Is this just another
fingerspelling font?

No — This font allows you to make symbols to represent all the aspects of ASL, not just the fingerspelling handshapes.

Skip the theory and learn by example:
Lesson 1: Handshapes →

What is in this font?

Keyboard Layout

American Keyboard Layout (QWERTY)


This font's symbols

 qQwWeErRtTyYuUiIoOpP [{]}\| 

Character Mapping



The number handshapes are mapped to the digits 0 to 9, as you might expect.


The fingerspelling alphabet is mapped to the lowercase letters, including special rotated symbols for h j p q and z. Separate symbols for the 2 6 9 and 0 handshapes are also mapped to v w f and o.


All additional handshapes are capital letters. Some make more sense than others. (Capitals J and Z are not handshapes.)

A B C H I K R and Y have one more extended finger than the lowercase handshape.
E G L O S U V and X have greater or lesser finger curl than the lowercase handshape.
The remaining handshapes were assigned somewhat arbitrarily (D F M N P Q T and W).

Read the Handshape Reference → for more info.


J ^ /
<   >
Z _ \

Four arrow symbols have been mapped to < > ^ and _. Four diagonal arrows have been mapped to J Z / and \.

Read the Directions Reference → for more info.


" = ' - % ~
. `

For palm orientation, six symbols representing the fingers have been mapped to " = ' - % and ~

Hollow dots for representing the thumb have been mapped to . and `

Read the Orientation Reference → for more info.

Other Symbols

! ? , ; :
@ # $ & * +
( ) [ ] { } |

Most of the other symbols are not significantly altered from their normal appearance:
- the punctuation ! ? , ; and :
- the symbols @ # $ & * and +
- the ( ) [ ] { } and | characters.

The @ symbol has been changed to a simple spiral.
The * has been changed to a simple dot.
The & has been changed to a dot on a line.
The ; has been changed to two dots on a line.
The symbols : [ and ] have had their spacing widths narrowed considerably for use in non-manual symbol construction (smilies :D ).

Read the Symbol Reference → for more info.

Writing Whole Signs

By combining these characters, you can make symbols to represent all the elements of a ASL sign. The sign for "cat" is a simple example.

Once you know the symbols for each of the elements of the sign, to write "cat" all you have to do is to put those symbols together.

The side of the nose (location)
Pinching (contact type)
Palm faces left (orientation)
The F handshape (handshape)
Movement to the right (motion)
Try it out
Type ( | . ) + . ' f > > here to see the written form of "cat".

This is the long way to write "cat". If you are writing to someone who already knows ASL, you can write an abbreviation of "cat" and the reader will still know what sign it is.

"Cat" (abbreviation)
Try it out
Type ( | . ) f > > here to see one way to abbreviate the sign for "cat".

Next page: Try it out