WHY Would I Want To Learn Sign Language?


Recently,  I was asked this question.

 “Why are so many hearing people choosing to learn sign language ?”


As a SODA, watching a sibling grow up with limited family interactions, diminished communications with ‘non-signing’ family members and relatives, the answer to this question seems obvious. But for those who recently find themselves growing curious, I can see how this is certainly a valid question.


Television shows like ABC Family’s Switched at Birth, Marlee Matlin appearing on Celebrity Apprentice and Dancing With the Stars, Sign Language Interpreters becoming famous (or infamous) after demonstrating their skills to the world……many are noticing a beautiful language much more mysterious not too many years ago.
Babies are learning sign language. Children with deaf friends are learning sign language. Sign Language interpreters are now seen in countless venues stirring the pot of curiosity and intrigue.


So……if you have no family members, no co-workers, no friends who happen to be deaf, why would you want to learn the language used by the majority of the Deaf in the U.S.?


ASL (American Sign Language) is the most common sign language used throughout North America. ASL is not a foreign language if by “foreign” you mean “coming from another country.”  ASL evolved….and is continually evolving….and may contain a mix of signs originated years ago in foreign lands. However, this language is alive and dynamic. According to USA Today, ASL is currently close to surpassing ‘German’  as the 3rd most common language used among American citizens.


Just imagine….being born and raised in the beautiful USA….loving Mom, baseball and apple pie….but unable to hear spoken language. Try to navigate through one single day – – unable to hear your own voice or any other voices around you. Imagine trying to read lips and/or communicate everything in writing. Imagine trying to understand a “breaking news story” with no captions. Imagine yourself as the only deaf child in elementary school, middle school, high school. No first run movies with captions, no experience with current music trends. Imagine frustration and isolation.


Now imagine encountering one single person with whom you can easily communicate. Maybe in the grocery store, the post office, the DMV, the PTA, your place of work or worship. Imagine the ten year old you. A deaf child mainstreamed into public school. School plays?  Band practice? Holiday programs? These can be challenging for any student, but especially for the deaf student who can possibly only communicate with their classroom interpreter. Now…..imagine meeting one single classmate or teacher who can communicate in your language.


Can you feel it?


Self-induced isolation is hard enough. Harder still when isolation is part of your life, but not of your choosing,


So back to the original question. Why learn ASL ?


1. For all the reasons mentioned above. You can be “the one” who opens the communication doors that are often slammed shut. If you’ve ever traveled to a foreign country and finally found someone who speaks English, you know how it feels.


2. As trite as this may sound, ASL is FUN!  To learn to express your ideas, a concept, your feelings in such a physical way……it’s fun, creative and really not difficult to learn. A good teacher will help explain the history behind the signs which makes them easier to remember.


3. Want to become an Interpreter and help facilitate communication every day?  This is one of many career choices available to those skilled in ASL.


4. How about early communication with your child?  Parents are now using sign language to communicate with children who have not yet learned to talk.


While considering the value of foreign language skills….French?  Spanish?  Italian? Consider learning a language born right here in the land of Purple Mountain Majesties. Many Community Colleges offer classes for beginners and those seeking certification.


Where are the classes nearest you?


Start Googling…………………………….


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About Evelyn

Evelyn Hunter is a SODA with years of experiential study in Deaf Culture. She attended Gallaudet University to immerse herself in this unique deaf world while working for the University and studying sign language to hone her skills. Evelyn has served in training, relationship sales, and marketing -- always seeking to expand awareness of Deaf Culture and the unique challenges the deaf face on a daily basis. The Sign Language Company has recently established a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and a website with a blog, as Evelyn coordinates the marketing and outreach efforts for the agency. Her goal is to attract new clients seeking exceptional service, while maintaining optimal relationships with clients who have selected The Sign Language Company for over 20 years.

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