“Sign language (SL):
1. Learn the fingerspelling alphabet first. It’s the key to learning SL. Practice until you can fingerspell a name or place name with ease. Film yourself to study and compare your attempts.
2. Try not to translate every sign to a written or spoken word in your head. Think visually. An image of an object, short silent film of an incident, physical sense of an emotion or mood (sarcasm = curled lip + raised eyebrow), etc.
3. When you watch a person signing, don’t focus on their hands alone. Look at the signer as a whole: facial expression, mouth movement, body language, hand shapes, their use of space, etc. Those provide context, mood, description, grammar, etc. in one go. It may seem overwhelming, but it will get easier. Think of the signer as a film and their signing as onscreen subtitles.
4. Don’t apologize profusely every time you make a mistake or struggle to communicate. Most SL users would prefer you to just move past it and focus on.”