American Sign Language is primarily used by deaf people within the United States. It is, however, the fourth most used language in the United States. It is becoming increasingly popular as more hearing people learn about the world of the deaf and choose to involve themselves more with it. Learning ASL is a great way to start to learn more about deaf culture, and has other benefits for anyone that learns it as well!
1. Meet new friends and people!
According the CDC there are about 28 million people in the United States who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Not all deaf use ASL, but many do, so by learning it you could open yourself up to so many more friends!
2. Become bilingual.
Just like being bilingual in any two languages, becoming fluent in ASL also counts as being bilingual. The super cool thing about being bilingual in ASL and English is that you can communicate in both at the same when you get really good.
3. Have private conversations in public.
You’ve wanted to have a “secret” language with your friends for the longest time. This is your chance.
4. Communicate with babies and animals.
Many people teach their hearing children a little bit of ASL before they can even talk. It can help them to learn how to effectively express their needs better. Animals also have been known to be able to pick up on what an owner who uses ASL is trying to communicate.
5. Accommodate better for deaf people!
Deaf people live their whole lives needing to adjust to the hearing world. Learning something that can help you adapt to being better suited to interacting with random deaf individuals is beneficial to both involved parties. It is a useful skill for teachers, police, politicians, doctors, nurses, lawyers, and just about anyone!
6. Create visual stories.
ASL is a visual language and it often uses variations of signs to create visual stories. The process of making these stories involves critical thinking that could be applied to story telling and creating messages in other languages!
7. Enhance cognitive functioning.
Being bilingual has been shown to increase cognitive functioning individuals.ASL also has various ways to say similar things, so just by using it frequently you may think differently about communication.
8. Practice spelling.A lot of words, like names, in ASL are spelled out using fingerspelling. This is great practice for spelling and also is a good place to start when learning the language.
There is a whole culture of people who identify with deafness and they are often overlooked and looked down upon. Their culture is just as legitimate as any other and should be learned about and embraced. Although not all people in the deaf culture use ASL, many do and it is a good way to be introduced to the culture.
10. Understand what’s going on in those viral videos.
Videos about advancements of ASL and deaf culture in mainstream society come out frequently recently. It's always great to understand what's being said without a translation!
11. Be prepared for the future.
You never know what's going to happen. You or a family member could one day lose the ability to hear or you could very well have a child or friend who cannot hear. It would be best to be prepared for the situation by learning ASL now!