Ashman invests her work with underlying meaning by giving her models texts to translate into sign language. She capitalises on their facial expressions, which are an inherent part of signing and more developed in the deaf than in hearing people. Similarly because their arm and hand movements have become their first language they exhibit beautiful qualities of control and nuance. The texts she chooses are usually from religious sources or short poems or haikus. The meaning of the texts becomes embedded yet hidden in the finished works. Sometimes the title of the work hints at the original text. In some works the juxtaposition of appropriated imagery such as flowers or birds suggests a hidden, inner world.