Welcome to
Body Language: Put Some Meat on Your Bones

Talking about the Muscular and Skeletal Systems in ASL

CATIE Center - St. Catherine University

For interpreters, being able to talk about human anatomy in American Sign Language is a critical skill. Whether in a clinical setting, such as a hospital or clinic, or in an academic setting, such as a classroom - being able to effectively describe the human body is crucial for effective interpretation. This workshop is designed for you to effectively build capacity in this arena.

Participants will use online resources to create ASL explanations of certain topics, then view sample ASL video from Nigel Howard, Doug Bowen-Bailey, Amy Williamson and others. After viewing the sample videos, they will apply insight gained to re-creating their own video. Participants will be able to work as individuals or in small groups on their own time line to complete activities.

Topics covered include:

  • how the knees work,
  • a hip fracture,
  • a hip replacement,
  • the structure of the pelvis,
  • how the biceps and triceps work,
  • how the ligaments of the knees work.


By completing all the activities in this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • identify at least three different types of classifiers;
  • list two different reference scales used in ASL discourse;
  • practice using classifiers in structured activities related to the skeletal and muscular system; and
  • identify at least three resources for continuing professional development.

Technical Requirements

In order to successfully complete this workshop, you need:


  • a video camera to record your work for analysis and reflection
  • the ability to view YouTube and Vimeo videos (videos from the course are presented in Vimeo or YouTube format.)  Some networks may block YouTube and Vimeo.


  • the ability to post your videos on YouTube.

Content Development

This section's content was designed by Doug Bowen-Bailey and is based on a traditional workshop that he has led. It has benefited greatly from the expertise of Nigel Howard, an interpreter educator and Deaf interpreter who divides his time between British Columbia and England. Gratitude is also owed to Karen Malcolm, an interpreter educator in British Columbia who assisted with filming Nigel.


This program is sponsored by the CATIE Center at St. Catherine University.

The CATIE Center at St. Catherine University is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration, grant number H160A100003.

The purpose of all activities under this funding is to increase the number of qualified interpreters available to meet the communications needs of Deaf individuals.

Last modified: Thursday, 26 May 2016, 12:40 PM