Deaf Culture in Canadian Tourism


American Sign Language in Canadian Travel

The challenges of the Canadian Signing dialects, city names and provinces.

Deaf Culture in Canadian Tourism - Ask anyone in the Deaf community in Canada; traveling is hard when using American Sign Language. There are several different dialects in A.S.L in Canada, but there are also differences compared to USA Language. Canada has signs that are influenced by Local Indigenous Signs, LSQ (Quebec Sign Language), and different regional signs. The Sign regions in Canada are the Pacific (British Columbia), Prairie region (Alberta to Manitoba), Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic (the Atlantic regions). The territories use all Indigenous Sign Language.

Deaf Culture in Canadian Tourism Challenges

There is no database of city signs for the Deaf Culture in Canada; I have met members of the D/deaf community who do not know their local city signs or their neighboring city signs. Hearing that people in their towns do not know the name sign is troublesome. Think about it, if you are Deaf, can you name three nearby cities' name signs? And if you are Hearing, do you know your city's name sign?

Finger Spelling Is A Last Resort

In addition, some cities have name signs while others do not, making it hard to ask for directions and travel from city to city. A lot of the time, people in the D/deaf community have to resort to fingerspelling; some members can finger spell fast, while others finger spell slowly.

Watch Video: Signing Provinces and Cities 

ASL Dictionaries in Travel

Using an ASL dictionary when traveling is a good idea. However, there are not many Canadian dictionaries out there. A perfect one is a dictionary I received while studying the D/deaf culture Canadian Dictionary of ASL. This dictionary is the only dictionary that shows the provincial dialects and differences. This is helpful for both D/deaf and ASL travelers and people who are local and do not know the language. It can be incredibly frustrating for both the traveler, as well as the locals, not to know local and provincial sign dialects.

Options For Deaf Culture in Canadian Tourism

While this book only comes in a BIG size, a good option would also be purchasing a Pocket dictonary for ASL. However, there is no Canadian ASL pocket dictionary that I have seen. Therefore the dictionary would only show USA dialects, and some words may not be understood in Canada.

Watch Video: Signing Differences Between Provinces

For example, in the video below, I am showing you the differences between British Columbia signs and various provincial dialects for everyday words. You can see how the signs are extremely different and could be misinterpreted. And these are basic signs for some of the words that change from province to province.

Benefits of Inclusive Tourism

While ASL is a very complex language, with its own grammar and its own unique words that can't be translated back to English, syntax, and culture, there is an easy way to show that your Tourism attraction is caring and trying to be inclusive. I have never met a D/deaf community member that is not thankful when someone tries this. 

Watch Video: Finger Spelling 

This is finger spelling; while it is not ideal for long conversations as finger spelling is hard to understand often, you can spell simple words and attempt to communicate. For example, I can finger spell really fast, as ASL is my first language. However, I struggle reading finger spelling a lot of the time as I struggle to spell and make sounds, so knowing what someone is finger spelling sometimes takes time.

American Sign Language and the Canadian Challenges

While ASL, LSQ, and Indigenous Sign Languages have been recognized as official languages in Canada since June 21, 2019, there are still too many people who do not know their local signs, no database to educate both hearing people and D/deaf people on the signs. Nor is there a lot of knowledge of Provincial Dialects of the language.

Inclusive Tourism Is Growing

More and more people are starting to recognize the need and learn their local city signs as well as learning the basic ABCs so, at the very least, you can finger spell for the D/deaf visitor. I want to encourage everyone to find out their local city signs and share them with the community, both hearing and D/deaf! When a D/deaf person enters a business and the owner can sign or can use basic signs, it not only makes the person's day but suddenly they feel a bit less like an outsider and more included in the experience!

Sign Makes Smiles

For example, when I entered the Moon Shadows Campground in Merritt, B.C., and started to tell the owner my story of using ASL to communicate, she began to sign. Everyone who was in that room would agree; not only did the owner get excited, but I did as well, we both turned off our voices and just started signing, and that is something I will never forget!

American Sign Language
Canadas Language for the D/deaf

Travel Canada within the D/deaf community

Location (Map)

Vernon, BC, Canada
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Comments 6

Janel Coe on Monday, 21 November 2022 13:29

Very educational and I liked the videos. Thanks Samantha!

Very educational and I liked the videos. Thanks Samantha!
Kim Kenyon on Monday, 21 November 2022 16:18

I agree! This is excellent and thank you so much for posting this Samantha!

I agree! This is excellent and thank you so much for posting this Samantha!
Andrea Horning on Tuesday, 22 November 2022 04:41

Very informative!

Very informative!
Samantha Sewell on Thursday, 24 November 2022 00:57

Janel Coe Thank you <3

Janel Coe Thank you <3
Samantha Sewell on Thursday, 24 November 2022 00:57

Kim Kenyon Thanks <3

Kim Kenyon Thanks <3
Diana Mohrsen on Thursday, 24 November 2022 06:19

Excellent videos. Very informative. Thanks for posting.

Excellent videos. Very informative. Thanks for posting.
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