While there are several languages that closing in on “dead” status, the use of ASL (American Sign Language) is growing more common each day. There are several reasons for learning ASL, even if you can speak and hear and if you do not know anyone who needs to communicate in the manner. First of all, learning sign language is fun! It is a great second language for children to learn as it teaches them not only how to speak in another way, but recognize the importance the deaf community plays on our society.
There are several states in America that have passed laws that recognize sign language as a language that is natural and complete. Hundreds of universities all over the United States accept ASL as a fulfillment of the second language requirement to get accepted and to graduate. This says a lot as to the importance of ASL. Even television shows are using actors who use ASL. (My favorite is Switched at Birth and it’s what inspired me to learn ASL myself!) Because of this surge of interest in ASL, employers are looking at those fluent in the language to serve as interpreters. This has gone from a language only for the hearing impaired and snowballed into a major second language.
If you know ASL you can communicate with people with hearing problems and improve your communication with hearing people. Many people can use help when it comes to their non-verbal communication skills. Imagine how many more sales you could make, how many more happy customers you could have and how many personal conflicts that could be avoided simply by being schooled in non-verbal communication skills. ASL has much to do with body language. When you can read another person’s body language you are at an advantage. When you know how to control yours you are at an even bigger advantage.
One of the largest groups of people who benefit from learning sign language is children; especially babies. Many parents are concerned that teaching their baby sign language will result in a delay of verbal communication. However, this does not seem to be the case. It actually gives children a more effective way to communicate before they can speak. When they reach an age where they can speak, they will do so and still carry their ASL knowledge with them which will help them later in life. It is also perfect for children who are handicapped and cannot speak well or at all. My son has traumatic brain injury and ASL was the only way he could communicate with us until he was 4 years old.
Overall, learning ASL is an enriching experience. Even if you don’t think you have any use for it (and perhaps you really don’t), it helps to expand your mind and just adds to your life as a whole.
If you are interested in learning ASL, visit start-american-sign-language.com/ to get started.