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Sign Language - Learning and Using Sign Language


Updated June 12, 2011

Sign language is an integral part of the deaf community; there would not be deaf culture without sign language. Many hearing people want to learn sign language. It is possible to tell stories and poetry in sign language. Hearing parents use sign language with hearing babies. Plus, sign language is used to teach deaf and hearing children.

Learning Sign Language

For those who are just starting to learn sign language, classes and other learning resources are available. It is possible to learn sign language in high school and get foreign language credit. Learning usually starts with the sign language alphabet. After learning sign language, many people take jobs that use their newly learned sign language skills.

In addition, everyone has their own sign language learning experience. Plus, some people in the culturally deaf community struggle with their attitudes toward hearing people learning sign language. Finally, some parents will not learn sign language even if their deaf child depends on it.

Sign Language Learning Resources

More About Learning Sign Language

Mini Sign Language Guides

Sometimes you want to know the signs for specific vocabulary such as words associated with Christmas. Here are mini sign language guides for common topics such as animals and colors.

Every Day Signs

Holiday Signs

Fun with Sign Language

One popular thing to do with sign language is translate songs. You can buy things with sign language themes, play games, and do puzzles.

Sign Language in Deaf Culture

Sign language is a central part of deaf culture. It is used in stories and poetry, and deaf people create unique sign names.

Baby Sign Language

Using sign language with babies reduces communication frustration (such as meltdowns) and may improve a baby's IQ slightly. Young children can continue using sign language.

Sign Language in Education

Sign language plays an important role in educating deaf and hard of hearing children who are being taught with the help of sign language. There are various forms of sign language and education. Bilingual bicultural education uses ASL to teach English, the idea being that if a deaf child is strong in one language, he will be able to learn another. Total communication involves using both sign language and speech. Pidgin signed English, perhaps the most common form of sign language in use, mixes ASL with English. Then there is a straight English form of sign language. Finally, there actually was a time in deaf history when sign language was largely forbidden in deaf education.

International Sign Language

Every country has its own form of sign language, with a few exceptions (American Sign Language, or a close form of it, is used in some foreign countries). About.com has covered some international sign languages, and articles about international deaf communities also include information about that country's sign language.

International Sign Language Articles

International Deaf Communities Articles

Sign Language Miscellaneous

Sign language teaching is a respected profession. Students practice sign language in clubs. Many "hearing" hand gestures resemble ASL signs. Sign language has its own grammar and syntax. There was a signing Barbie doll. Hearing people who can not talk use sign language. The I Love You handshape is instantly recognizable. Sign language has appeared in TV commercials. Even American Indians had their own sign language.
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How to Sign Colors in ASL
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