A Latinx man with short black hair and a mustache and beard wears a green short sleeve shirt and stands in front of a blue mottled background signing.Video created by Gallaudet University College of Continuing Education (2000)

Build your ASL skills with classifiers and use of space by translating clips from the movie “Batman” and comparing your translation to the work of ASL Master David Rivera.

This activity comes following three segments from the original video that practices re-telling specific scenes from the movie.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Summary of “Batman” movie

Key Skills

These are some of the key skills from Taylor (207) that you can choose to focus on in this activity.

  • Major Feature | Classifiers
    • 4.3 Use accurate descriptive classifiers (111)
    • 4.4 Use accurate locative classifiers (113)
    • 4.5 Use accurate body classifiers and body part classifiers (114)
    • 4.10 Use all categories of classifiers when applicable (121)
    • 4.11 Change from one classifier to another classifier or sign accurately (122)
  • Major Feature | Space
    • 5.4 Use accurate spatial agreement (141)
    • 5.5 Restructure space accurately (145)
    • 5.7 Use as much space as the interpretation requires (149)

Time Required for Activity: 20 mins


You will:

  1. Identify key skills related to classifiers and space to practice
  2. Create representation of interaction from video clip in ASL
  3. Compare and contrast your representation with that of a master ASL storyteller
  4. Identify new skills from ASL sample and incorporate in a re-telling of the video clip


Taylor, M.(2017). Interpretation Skills:  American Sign Language to English.   Edmonton:  Interpreting Consolidated.

Step One: Create a Summary of the Movie

This activity should be done after having done Parts 1, 2 & 3 when you have practiced specific scenes from the movie.

Read the plot summary below and create a description of the entire movie – again imagining that you are describing the movie to a friend in ASL.  If you have seen the entire movie, that would be an even better source as David Rivera is creating a summary based on a personal experience of having seen the movie.

Do not worry about the details in the summary. Focus more in on the action and your use of space and classifiers.

Plot Summary

As Gotham City approaches its bicentennial, Mayor Borg orders district attorney Harvey Dent and police commissioner James Gordon to make the city safer. Meanwhile, reporter Alexander Knox and photojournalist Vicki Vale begin to investigate rumors of a vigilante nicknamed “Batman” who is targeting the city’s criminals.

Batman’s alter-ego is Bruce Wayne, a billionaire industrialist who, as a child, witnessed his parents’ murder at the hands of a psychotic mugger. At a fundraiser for the bicentennial in Wayne Manor, Bruce meets and falls for Vale, and the two begin a romantic relationship. However, the evening is cut short as Bruce is alerted to Commissioner Gordon’s sudden departure due to police business and leaves to investigate as Batman.

Mob boss Carl Grissom, who has already been targeted by Dent and Gordon, discovers his mistress Alicia is involved with his second-in-command Jack Napier. With the help of corrupt police lieutenant Max Eckhardt, Grissom engineers Napier’s death in a raid at Axis Chemicals. However, Grissom’s plan is foiled with the sudden arrival of Commissioner Gordon, who wants Napier captured alive. In the ensuing shootout, Napier, who has realized he was set up, kills Eckhardt. Batman arrives and, in a struggle, Napier is knocked into a vat of chemicals. Batman escapes and Napier is presumed dead.

Napier emerges from the vat, but is left disfigured with chalk white skin, emerald green hair, and a rictus grin. The sociopathic Napier is driven insane by the incident and begins calling himself “the Joker”. He kills Grissom and usurps authority over his criminal empire, and scars Alicia’s face to equal his disfigurement.

The Joker terrorizes Gotham City by lacing hygiene products with “Smylex”, a deadly chemical which causes victims to die laughing with the same maniacal grin as the Joker. As he searches for information on Batman (whom he blames for his disfigurement), the Joker also becomes obsessed with Vale. He lures her to the Gotham Museum of Art and his henchmen destroy the works of art. Batman arrives and rescues her. They escape in the Batmobile, pursued by the Joker’s men. Batman takes Vicki to the Batcave, where he gives her information from his research on Smylex that will allow the city’s residents to avoid exposure to the toxin.

Bruce visits Vicki at her apartment, prepared to tell her about his alter-ego. The Joker interrupts their meeting, asking Bruce, “You ever danced with the devil by the pale moonlight?” before shooting him. Bruce uses a bended serving tray as body armor and plays dead. He remembers that the mugger who killed his parents asked the same question, and realizes that Napier was his parents’ killer. Vicki is brought to the Batcave by Bruce’s butler, Alfred Pennyworth, who has been coaxing their relationship because Vicki brings out Bruce’s human side. After telling her that he cannot focus on their relationship with the Joker terrorizing Gotham, Bruce departs as Batman to destroy the Axis plant. Meanwhile, the Joker lures the citizens of Gotham to a parade with the promise of free money, but while throwing cash at the crowd as promised, also attacks them with Smylex gas released from his giant parade balloons. Batman arrives and tows the balloons above the clouds with the Batwing. The Joker shoots the Batwing using a long-barreled gun, causing it to crash, and takes Vicki to the top of a cathedral.

Batman, who survived the crash, fends off the Joker’s remaining men despite his injuries, and confronts the Joker. The two fight, with Joker eventually gaining the upper hand, leaving Batman and Vicki clinging onto an outcropping. The Joker tries to escape by helicopter, but Batman attaches a heavy granite gargoyle to the Joker’s leg with his grappling hook, causing him to lose his grip and fall to his death after it breaks off.

Commissioner Gordon announces that the police have arrested the Joker’s men and unveils the Bat-Signal. Harvey Dent reads a note from Batman, promising that he will defend Gotham whenever crime strikes again. Vicki is taken to Wayne Manor by Alfred, who tells her that Bruce will be a little late. She responds that she is not surprised, as Batman looks at the signal’s projection from a rooftop, standing watch over the city.

Source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman_(1989_film)

Record Your Summary

Create a video of your summary so you can use it for comparison and analysis.

Step 3: Watch ASL Master

David Rivera created a summary of the entire movie in ASL.  Think about what elements of your first attempt were challenging for you.  Watch carefully to see how David manages these parts.

View ASL Summary of Movie

Shadow ASL Version

After having watched it the first time, play it again and shadow David.  Focus on specific skills that you are working on developing.  For example, you might be working on body and body part classifiers.  Make sure you are paying special attention to how he manages to use these types of classifiers to represent the action.

Tip: It may be helpful for you to click on the Gear icon on the YouTube video menu and change the speed to .75 or .5. Click here for tutorial on how to do that.

Step Four: Re-Tell in ASL Again

Now that you have watched and shadowed David Rivera’s version, try re-telling your summary again.


As you retell it, record yourself again and compare it to your first attempt.


  • What improvements did you see between your first and second attempt?
  • What areas do you still want to focus on as you continue your practice?