Some people learn ASL for professional reasons. Perhaps you want to teach Deaf students or become an ASL interpreter. Interpreters are needed in many different settings: educational, medical, legal, and religious. To become certified as an interpreter requires much practice and rigorous testing, as well as continuing education. For more information about becoming a certified interpreter, contact the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID).
If you have had trouble learning a foreign language such as Spanish or French, try ASL instead. If your primary learning style is visual or kinesthetic, you may find you have a knack for ASL. Visual languages use the eyes and the body rather than the mouth and the ears. Courses in ASL may meet the modern foreign language requirements for a college student and can open the door to another culture right here in your own country.
One more reason to learn ASL is simply because it is a beautiful language. As your language skills develop, you may find ASL truly "speaks" to you in a way that spoken language does not. Some interpreters enjoy the challenge of translating songs into a visual language like ASL. Many Deaf enjoy ASL poetry and drama, as well as signed music.
Whatever your reasons, learning ASL is something you will enjoy for a lifetime. This beautiful language and the associated Deaf culture will enrich your education and your life.
Gallaudet University. (2010). Frequently Asked Questions: Deaf-related. Accessed January 6, 2011 athttp://library.gallaudet.edu/Library/Deaf_Research_Help/Frequently_Asked_Questions_(FAQs).htmlNakamura, K. (2008). About American Sign Language. Accessed January 6, 2011 at http://www.deaflibrary.org/asl.html
American Sign Language (ASL) is the language used by Deaf people in the United States and in English-speaking parts of Canada (Nakamura, 2008). Not to be confused with Signed Exact English (SEE) or the Manual Alphabet, ASL is a distinct language with its own grammar and syntax. Many colleges recognize ASL as meeting foreign language requirements (Gallaudet, 2010), since ASL is not a signed form of English, but a different language altogether.