Welcome to my first entry in the "A to Z Blogging Challenge."
A is for ASL
Background: ASL as a Language
ASL, or American Sign Language, is the most commonly accepted form of communication for deaf and hard of hearing Americans. In fact, many high schools and colleges now offer ASL as a foreign language option. According to www.signmedia.com, "American Sign Language... meets all of the requirements for human languages - it is a rule-governed, grammatical symbol system that changes over time and that members of a community share."
Learning to Sign: Reasons and Resources
Even if you are not hard of hearing yourself and don't know anyone who is, it is good to know a little ASL. After all, who among us has never lost his/her voice and had to find alternative methods of communicating? Yes, a pencil and paper are a good way, but ASL is quicker if both parties know how to sign. At very least the sign language alphabet can enable you to communicate with anyone who knows it. I, for one, tend to forget my ASL when in a position where I must use it to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired. In fact, the only time I am actually fluent in ASL is when I'm in a bar with a friend who also knows ASL, I've had a couple of drinks, and the bar is noisy. This tells me that I know ASL, but I'm not confident with my knowledge. I'm working on fixing that.
Since I'm currently going through one of my semi-annual bouts of laryngitis, which have been known to last for 12 weeks or more, I figured this was the time to brush up on my ASL and force.....er..... encourage my family to learn some. Since ASL is very difficult to learn from pictures in a book, I went looking online for ASL sites. The first site I hit upon, ASLPro (www.aslpro.com), turned out to be an excellent resource. It has extensive word lists, ASL idioms, a quiz feature, and even an ASL for Babies section.
For anyone who hasn't heard about Signing for Babies, its an awesome way to teach your young child to communicate before they can speak. Since babies are hard-wired for learning, and especially for learning language skills, ASL works wonderfully. I wish I had thought of it with my own kids. I'd rather my little one be able to express his needs than having to resort to the "why am I crying" guessing game.
Speaking of teaching very young children to sign, look at a site named "Signing Time." There are DVD's books flash cards, and many other products available at the Signing Time website (www.signingtimecom). Also, episodes of the Signing Time show is aired regularly on many PBS stations. It's a good way to learn to sign along with your little one.
I hope you have found something in this that piques your interest in learning American Sign Language.
At very least, the infamous American middle-finger salute (aka "giving them the finger") is not ASL. I can curse at you in many ways in true ASL, but that is not one of them.