Sign language and alternative methods of communication have always interested me, since I rely so heavily on auditory information. I am auditory learner and I retain information best when it is communicated to me through language. I always wondered if I would be able to function in daily life if I was deaf or experienced hearing loss, because I assumed that deaf and people suffering from severe hearing loss did not utilize language. Then I witnessed a sign language translator signing to an audience. At that moment it became apparent that I would function the same I do now, except in another beautiful, artistic language!
Sign language is gorgeous visually and it is a universal system. The art of signing is a hidden gem in our society. Signing until recently has not had a major presence in popular culture. Yet the fluidity and elegance of the language is unrivaled. The expressive nature of the language is only one of the factors that peaked my interest into learning ASL.
Signing is a critical skill in education because students who are deaf or hearing impaired are legally required to be accommodated by qualified professionals. There are a few students in the elementary school where I currently work as a computer para-educator, who are hearing impaired. There is a limited amount of individuals who possess the ability to communicate with these students through sign language. For many students who speak ASL, sign language is their first and primary language. Students may feel shy or embarrassed about speaking and signing might be how they feel comfortable communicating. It is crucial that students feel that they are heard and feel comfortable reaching out to communicate.
2 to 3 out of every 1,000 American students are diagnosed as deaf or suffering from hearing loss. (https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/quick-statistics-hearing) American Sign Language is definitely an necessary art in modern education. This semester I would like to dedicate my time self-teaching American Sign Language. I would like not only to learn how to be able to communicate at a basic level, but also the history behind ASL and the challenges it has experienced along the way.
During some research, I stumbled upon Start ASL, an online learning site which uses videos, learning resources, and even workbooks for free online that help teach American Sign Language. Looking the first lesson on the Start ASL page I downloaded the alphabet work book and I watched several videos demonstrated simple phrases such as “good morning” and “good afternoon”. The workbook includes interactive activities to quiz your learning and track your progress.