Five Fancy Finger Fonts [resource]
Have you ever wished you could type out ASL fingerspelling letters as easily as regular letters? I’ve scoured the interwebs to find five great fonts that will allow you to do exactly that. These fingerspelling fonts will instantly give any publication a special Sign Language flair.
1. Gallaudet (Free*)
For years, I’ve been using the Gallaudet font, created by David Rakowski in 1992. Just about everyone else has, too! Named after the minister who helped bring Sign Language to America, Gallaudet is freely available, it has been around since the internet was a wee child, and its licensing agreement is simple. Feel free to download and install this font after donating an unspecified amount to a charity of your choice! If you’re having trouble deciding where to donate, contact me; I can help. 🙂
Signs Language TBF (Free)
This is another free font, and it looks like it could be Gallaudet’s bilingual cousin. Actually, while I don’t know for sure, the two fonts are so close that I suspect someone simply took the Gallaudet font, strengthened the strokes, and added a questionably helpful box with the corresponding English alphabet character in the lower right-hand corner. Don’t use this one for flash cards, folks. It’s just not honest.
Finger Alphabet Graffiti
Our final free fingerspelling font comes from Tanja Shulz in the form of a four-fingered hand.. (I know, I know. Alliterative much?) This is a highly stylized font, with only four fingers instead of five to complete each character. It’s a fun font, so check it out. Use, however, however, with discretion. This font may be best utilized for teen activities and events rather than, say, orders of service.
Note: When you install this font on your computer, it will appear in your font selection menu as zoefingerabc graffiti. Just scroll to the end and you’ll see it.
If you’re looking for something classy and clean, and you’re willing to pay for it, Handtext may fit the bill like a glove, if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor. This font was designed by Joachim Lapiak in 2007, and it looks great. There are two variants: the regular font and Handtext Bold, which provides a striking contrast. Handtext Bold and Regular are available for purchase on Joachim’s website, Lapiak Design.
Hand Sign Regular
This fingerspelling font by Dubius Deflon also includes a variety of other hand shapes mapped to different symbols you can type on your keyboard. Do be careful what you type, though; you’ll find certain hand shapes in this font that are, shall we say, dubious. Use at your own risk.
Using Fingerspelling Fonts
How should we use these fonts in your projects?
- Don’t use fingerspelling fonts for long passages of text. These fonts are designed to be used in short headlines and statements. They are not effective for paragraphs of text. Remember, fingerspelling is not the same as Sign Language. English written with a sign font is still English. Because of this, Deaf people who do not know English well will also struggle to read ASL fingerspelling fonts, while Deaf people with great English skills will read regular fonts much more quickly and easily than fingerspelling fonts. If your goal is to make information more accessible to low-verbal Deaf, consider sharing a video with the message recorded by an expressive signer in Sign Language.
- Do use fingerspelling fonts to add visual character. Fingerspelling fonts are most effective when used to add visual appeal to a Deaf-themed production. They can be used in titles, headings, and illustrations on flyers, bulletins and slide shows. The Sign Language numbers in these fonts can be used as the bullets for numbered lists, or as page numbers in a booklet related to Sign Language or Deaf ministry.
- Do use fingerspelling fonts in teaching materials and games. Fingerspelling charts and practice flash cards can use these fonts effectively, as can Sign Language games and activities. Word search puzzles, assemble-a-phrase games where two teams compete to be the first to put letters in the correct order… the possibilities are many. Get creative!
Do you know of any other fingerspelling fonts available for download or purchase? Are you using fingerspelling fonts in your own projects? Share your experience in the comments for this article.