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Sign Language

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American Sign Language (ASL) is a visual language with its own syntax and grammar, and is the underlying pillar of deaf culture. When used in combination with English, sign language can help both hearing and deaf children to learn. Hearing and deaf people who socialize in the deaf community may need to know sign language. These resources will help you learn and enjoy sign language.
  1. What is Sign Language?
  2. Learning Sign Language
  3. Signing with Hearing Children
  1. Sign Language Interpreting
  2. Deaf Culture
  3. Outstanding Deaf and Hearing People

What is Sign Language?

One reason some hearing people resist learning sign language is because they think they need to become fluent in it. It is not necessary to become fluent in sign language unless your intention is to work with deaf people. Most hearing and deaf people can benefit from learning just enough sign language to be able to communicate. At a minimum, the sign language alphabet should be learned.

Learning Sign Language

Cover of Picture Plus Dictionary

People have multiple resources for learning sign language. They can learn through classroom training, online training, video materials, and books. However, these are resources and are not a substitute for the best way to learn sign language. The best way to master sign language is by interacting with other sign language users.

Signing with Hearing Children

Cover of Baby Signs: How to Talk with Your Baby Before Your Baby Can Talk

Sign language benefits both hearing and deaf children, particularly when they are babies. Using sign language with babies and toddlers has been shown to reduce frustration at a time when babies are old enough to know what they want but still unable to talk. Early exposure to a visual language also pays off later on in school.

Sign Language Interpreting

Universal symbol for sign language interpreter

Many people learn sign language with the goal of becoming an interpreter. Sign language interpreters are crucial as one of the many ways access is provided to deaf and hard of hearing people. Modern technology does exist for accessibility (captioning, etc.) but there are many situations in which only an interpreter will do, or the deaf person may prefer an interpreter.

Deaf Culture

Cover of the book Deaf Heritage: A Narrative History of Deaf America

As you learn sign language, you will inevitably be exposed to deaf culture. The deaf community has developed its own cultural hallmarks in art, theater, and film. Deaf culture has expanded to incorporate the Internet as well, with deaf sites, deaf films being posted online, and deaf blog sites. The deaf community's culture continues to evolve and adapt.

Outstanding Deaf and Hearing People

Deaf heritage includes many deaf and hearing people who have made their mark in the deaf and hard of hearing community. Some stood out in the world of entertainment; others made a contribution to the field of deaf education, or in sports. Those are just examples of how deaf and hard of hearing people contributed to society.

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