Do Deaf people dream in ASL?

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Often they do, but it depends on how long they have been deaf and what form of communication is natural to them. You can often see deaf people who are sleeping, talking to themselves in their sleep in full or half formed sign. Many report that the characters in their dreams use the same range of sign – regional professional or technical signs – and with the range of skill as I’ve seen in them while awake.

Deaf friends have told me that they dream they can hear, but since they don’t really know what that entails, or how speech sounds, they imagine some pretty bizarre things.

I have a friend whose parents I had known for quite a few years. I was sad when her mother died. And one day, I was talking to her about her family and I said, “I really miss your mother. We had quite a few telephone visits – and I always knew it was she, as soon as I picked up the phone. She had a very pleasant roughness to her voice. A texture that was unique.”

My friend looked at me in surprise and said, “Are you telling me that people have different voices?”

I told her that not only are our voices different, but most of our emotions were shown in the voice, and not as she had imagined, in face or body language. This surprised her. I also told her that we sometimes play or express other moods with our voices conveying one thing and our body language, another.

Think about what it must be like in prison, where voices are kept dead flat – which translates into dead flat ASL.

4 thoughts on “Do Deaf people dream in ASL?

  1. My ex was blind. He was legally blind for part of his life, but never really saw faces. He also never got the disconnect between voice and expression that denotes irony or sarcastic humor ala George Carlin. He would get ten kinds of upset over something that was not meant to be upsetting. So it isn’t just the deaf. However, I must say that I love how expressive the Deaf Community is. I have to school myself not to be overly expressive in other venues as people who can both see and hear are not sure what to do with all that emphasis. Too bad. We could all do with more feedback.


  2. The differences between deafness and blindness are many, but when they impact the hearing and sighted world,the responses are often the same. my friend, Bambino Marcantonio was blind and she would ask me to do things like defining the word behind for blind people. This was very hard to do. What about Room. same thing. I’m very glad for your addition to my understanding of this process.


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