5 Reasons to Learn American Sign Language
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5 Reasons to Learn American Sign Language

The perfect way to gossip without fear of being overhead.

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5 Reasons to Learn American Sign Language

ASL- that crazy cool silent form of communication amongst the Deaf. So, why should we as hearing people learn it too? I wondered the same thing until it was a requirement for my Communication Sciences and Disorders major. All students in our program, whether they want to work as Speech Pathologists or Audiologists, are required to take one year of ASL, and for good reasons. Here are my top five reasons.

1. You can get involved with the Deaf community

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One thing I learned in ASL is that America's Deaf community is a lot larger than we realize. Even in our small town of Athens, we have a decent-sized population of Deaf people, professors, and students. It's a great way to branch out and experience a world that is both different and similar to our hearing world in many ways. My favorite part of being an ASL student is the new window of opportunity that opened up to me, a barrier I broke down by no longer needing one of my senses to communicate. I've been able to attend really fun events, from an ASL immersion day of playing games in sign with other students to Deaf panels and Deaf meals. It's pretty crazy and pretty cool at the same time. There are Deaf schools, Deaf residential communities, clubs, outreach organizations and so much more. They have everything of their own.

2. ASL is the Deaf’s primary form of communication

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Recently, there's been a big push for sign language in schools, the presence of interpreters at official events such as conferences, presidential and governor addresses, newscasts, etc. This makes us acknowledge that not everyone can hear what is being spoken, and they should have resources available to cater to their needs. It's the same as having a translator at international conferences when more than just one nation is present.

3. ASL is useful

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You never know when you might run into someone Deaf at school, at home, or even work with someone Hard of Hearing or Deaf who uses ASL as their primary language. Don't make them read your lips, it won't work well. If you know even basic ASL, you'll be able to bridge that gap in communication between each other. It also makes them feel acknowledged and respected. Even if you don't spend time around the Deaf often, signing is useful for communicating with your friends in crowded places where you don't want to interrupt others in a group setting or talking loudly isn't effective. I do this with my other ASL classmates all the time on nights out where we wouldn't be able to hear each other shout over the loud music. You don't need to know much other than some basic phrases like 'Are you okay?' or 'Want to leave?' for example.

4. It is fun

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Once you get the hang of it, you can use it anywhere, have private conversations when no one is looking and you can't ve overheard. It is so cool to be able to speak using my hands and not have to actually talk or hear what the other person is trying to say. After just 1 year of ASL, I already have a large vocabulary and can carry out various conversations with the Deaf. It has opened my eyes to a whole new way of life, a different culture so close to home, creativity, and expression. What we're capable of when we have to work around one sense is incredible.

5. It’s less work than other languages

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You don't need to learn how to read, write, or speak ASL. There's no foreign accent to master, no reading assignments and you don't have to learn how to write a different alphabet. Here. all you need is your hands and your sight, plus a lot of practice, to sign. If you're not savvy with foreign languages for any of the above reasons but still need to fulfill the requirement for school, this is the place for you!

There are many other reasons to learn ASL, but I hope that some of the ones I've stated will inspire you to give signing a try. It's honestly super fun and I love Deaf people. They are fun, outgoing, expressive, innovative and so open to us ASL students. If you attend Ohio University, I encourage it even more. We have a fantastic program of lectures on Deaf culture, community and language development, plus courses dedicated to learning the language itself. After finishing my first year of ASL, I was inspired to declare a certificate in it and take every class I can in it. I'm so excited to take on the challenge of having only Deaf professors for the next year and a half!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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