By: Samantha Smith
This semester I chose to sign up for a sign language course to cover one of my general education requirements. As I study for my last written exam in the course, I figured why not kill two birds with one stone and write an article about it.
There are several different ways to learn sign language including online courses, YouTube channels, college classes and learning from a deaf person. One of the first things you should consider when deciding to learn sign language is which sign language you would like to learn. Click HERE for a list of a few of the different sign languages but know that American Sign Language (ASL) is what is used in the United States. You’ll also notice that in different areas of the USA, ASL signs will vary, just as accents do for those of us who speak.
Quick lesson: Hand shape, hand orientation, location and movement are the main four components of sign language according to signcanyou.com. These components are often referred to as the “Parameters of Sign.”
In my opinion, the school system should put more of an effort into teaching the general public about sign language and the deaf culture. Apparently the government of Manitoba agrees with me: “If students develop the skills to analyze, understand, and relate to any culture with which they may come into contact, they will be prepared for encounters with new cultural practices (pg 4, Manitoba Curriculum Framework of Outcomes).” In my first day of sign language class, I was given a test to fill out about deaf culture and I was very uniformed to put it lightly. If more schools would make it mandatory to learn at least the basics of ASL and deaf culture, it would be beneficial in the long run.
I realize that not everyone has the time or money to take a college ASL course, so I have taken the time to find two other options for those who many be interested. If you’re interested in learning ASL from home, you can sign up for an online course that can be found by clicking this link. Another option if you only want some basic knowledge in the area is to watch “100 Basic Signs,” on YouTube (click here). Because there’s not near enough time in the day (or space in this blog) click HERE if you’re interested in learning more about ASL deaf culture.