Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Reasons to Learn ASL

Most hearing people learn ASL to better communicate with a Deaf family member, friend, or co-worker. ASL is better learned within the context of personal relationships, not just by taking a class. There are regional variations in ASL, just as there are dialects in English and other spoken languages, so it is important to practice signing skills with people who are fluent in the ASL used in your community. Learning ASL from the Deaf also helps you understand Deaf culture, the context within which ASL is used.
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).html
Nakamura, 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.