Type Tuesday: body type

Lapiak ASL is a free font (for personal and non-commercial use) that depicts the American manual alphabet.

In fingerspelling, a handshape indicates a letter, which could be depicted from a range of complex pictoral representations to simple systematic strokes. At small sizes, many handforms (a, e, m, n, s, t) could be relatively difficult to distinguish from. The creation of such a font includes several parameters: the limitation of using only positive and negative space, stroke (and counter) thickness, and how complex or simple the hand, fingers, and detail should be. Since each letter contains more strokes than English characters, it is difficult, if not impossible, to create a highly legible font intended for small sizes. Thus, the use of a fingerspelling font should only be used as display type, for instructional or cultural purposes.

Read more on Joachim Lapiak, the Edmonton-based designer who created this font. His site is very informative.