by Jenna Restuccia | Jul 13, 2021 | American Sign Language
Many schools and parents teach their babies and young children American Sign Language (ASL). This practice is rooted in studies that show a clear advantage to expanding children’s communication abilities and styles. These studies suggest significant improvements in children’s lives in and out of the classroom, such as:
+12 IQ point advantages
Accelerated emotional development
Lower frustration levels
Improves child-parent bonding
Improves attentiveness to social gestures of others as well as of themselves
Earlier reading and more extensive reading vocabulary
Better grades in school.
Several of these developmental assets are significantly a result of bilingualism. Although, explicitly learning Sign Language has many benefits for young children of all abilities. Knowing a visual language helps with coordination, understanding cues associated with body language, and learning the emotions conveyed by other’s faces.
Some may say it is ironic to encourage hearing children to learn ASL while at the same time, we tell our deaf children to learn to speak. Why can’t deaf children learn to talk? This idea lacks an understanding of how powerful an effect communicating in their primary language can have for deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children.
This is not to say knowing English is not of benefit to deaf children. Just as the help of native English speakers learning, for example, Spanish. In this instance, we learn by seeing and hearing the Spanish words. The point is, when you are deaf, you cannot hear the language. Therefore, your primary language should be the one you can feel free to express yourself. One in which you can see, take in and understand without interference. If one cannot hear the language, one must be able to visualize the language. This idea is not solely words on paper, but a language geared for the eyes, Sign Language.
The takeaway: Though ASL is something we encourage in those who do not need the language, we need to encourage and empower those who need the language.
Next week we will discuss why English (either in written or spoken form) poses a challenge for DHH.
by Jenna Restuccia | May 10, 2021 | Business, Knowledge Base, Uncategorized
American Sign Language (ASL) is the primary non-written language of Deaf people in the U.S. and many of Western Canada. ASL is an expressive and non-syntactic verbal language conveyed by facial movement and gestures with the hands and face. Data shows that over 33 million Americans use ASL to communicate with each other and a wide range of friends, family, and professionals. Many colleges and universities offer ASL courses and programs. They are provided primarily to individuals who wish to learn or improve their communication skills to serve their communities better and be of greater value in their personal, professional, and social lives.
There are many reasons that one would want to learn ASL. Some individuals have learned the language by observing spoken speech in Sign Language, while others have learned it from receiving hand signals from a caregiver or a book of signs. Many people take American Sign Language classes to become certified CNAs (Certified Nursing Assistant). Others sign up for audiotapes and videos of ASL expressions and gestures to memorize. Several people learn American Sign Language simply because they love the language and wish to improve their communication skills.
The National Association of Special Education Programs (NASEP) estimates that approximately 1.6 million Americans communicate in ASL. Of those individuals, about half are certified to administer American Sign Language at home or in a school/community setting. Sign language is becoming more popular throughout the United States as people learn the language or take ASL classes for personal or community benefit. There are many benefits to learning ASL:
One of the most obvious benefits of learning American Sign Language is that it is a hands-on skill that anyone can perform with any level of fluency. Compared to other common languages such as English and Spanish, learning American Sign Language has a higher retention rate because almost anyone can perform it. Individuals of all ages and from all walks of life can learn how to sign. Sign language users do not necessarily speak but rather make facial expressions, emotions, and body motions that look like words or sentences. Sign language users can communicate verbally with each other using only hand motions.
In addition to ASL visual elements, learners also benefit from speaking the language. Many studies show that reading books containing written speech improves reading comprehension skills, similarly, achieved by reading audiobooks. However, in today’s world, more individuals are reading text on the Internet. Because of this, many individuals are now able to perform “word by word” communication via the computer. Learning American Sign Language provides individuals the ability to read and understand spoken languages and allows them to communicate on a deeper level that only the spoken language can provide.
One of the main reasons people begin learning ASL is that they plan to take an American Sign Language exam, such as training from the American deaf exposure program. The information courses in ASL include a fundamental understanding of the language, posture statements, and vocabulary exercises. The position statement is essential in spoken languages, and it instructs individuals on how to position themselves physically to hold a conversation in an everyday setting. A posture statement is also helpful because it demonstrates how people who speak ASL stand in relation to one another, which is vital for an American Sign Language test.