K, I admit it. I fingerspell when driving. Sometimes I’m so involved in fingerspelling that I don’t realize that my car is no longer driving completely straight in my lane. I always correct myself quickly, and no harm has ever come from this silly habit except for some mild embarrassment on my part. I used to like to do the license plates because then I can practice both my letters and my numbers at the same time, but I don’t do that anymore.
It dawned on my recently that this solution of signing license plates isn’t very practical. By signing the letters on a license plate, I’m learning how to think quickly when making the letters or numbers, but I’m not learning to spell actual words and my hands aren’t getting accustomed to switching between common letter combinations. So I’ve come up with a different solution.
I googled”Most Popular American Names”, and I came up with a list of both last names and first names, and how often they’re used. Not only did I learn that “Mary” is the most popular name for a woman in America, but I also get to practice actual names in context. It also has the added benefit of being something I can use later when (and if) I’m interpreting. I figure I’m going to have to fingerspell a lot of names, and if I can already do the top 200 American Names quickly, I’ll be good to go for real life situations. I carry the lists with me, and I practice whenever I have down time. Sometimes people look at me strangely like I’m talking to myself or something (OK, maybe it’s because I am), but I consider that a casualty of learning to speak fluent ASL.
As a side benefit, it’s also improved my driving habits.