We discuss name signs in the ASL 1 class. Here are the basics: Name signs are a part of Deaf culture and are used to identify and refer to people both present and not present. Usually a Deaf child receives a name when attending a residential school. If the child has Deaf parents, however, he/she receives a name sign at birth. There are two kinds of name signs--arbitrary and descriptive. Arbitrary name signs use the first letter of the person's name. Descriptive name signs are based on distinctive physical characteristics and are often given by peers and are usually later replaced by an arbitrary name sign. For use in in-person ASL classes, descriptive name signs are usually given to hearing sign language students. These are different from the descriptive name signs given to deaf children in that they combine the arbitrary and descriptive name signs. These name signs use the first letter of the student's name along with a distinctive physical characteristic. Do not use these signs to identify yourself outside of class, though--name signs can only be given to a hearing person when that person is involved in the Deaf community. Name signs should only be given by a Deaf person--hearing people should not create their own name signs. And even if you do receive an arbitrary name sign, you should always introduce yourself by signing your full name.