In previous studies, evidence concerning the extent of automatic word recognition in deaf children and the influence of language fluency on word and sign recognition (as indexed by the Stroop task) has been contradictory. This study examined the effects of English and sign language fluency in the automatic word and sign recognition of deaf and hearing adults. Results indicated that responding in sign took longer and created more Stroop interference than responding orally. Two groups of certified interpreters revealed this finding to be independent of hearing status. Most important, deaf subjects showed greater automaticity in recognizing signs than words, whereas hearing subjects showed greater automaticity in recognizing words than signs. This pattern was unaffected by language fluency. The findings clarify the results of previous studies both theoretically and methodologically.