American Sign Language Today

Hi hi! This week, I am going to talk about my involvement with American Sign Language (ASL) and how this can persuade you all to maybe start learning about it to. I started learning about ASL in 8th grade when I had this project called the “80/20” project. Some of the details are blurry, but I believe this meant that this project was going to be worth 20% of our religion grade and the other 80% meant we were going to work on it the last 8 weeks or so of 8th grade before going to high school. I decided I wanted to learn One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss in ASL and my friend would read it out loud to the class while I signed it. This experience and project started to open my eyes to the ASL community and how beautiful the language really is because of its visual image and facial expressions shown to tell any story.    

woman smilingI started my journey to learn more about the ASL community, and it did not stop at 8th grade. When taking ASL as a required course, it naturally to me, and I still enjoy ASL to this day, so it was never was a pain or something I was forced to do. I was always drawn to ASL ever since that project. The language requirement was two years in high school, but I ended up taking it for all four years of high school!

I continued on my ASL path at CWU with a fantastic teacher, TL (shouout to her)! She is a very understanding person and encouraged me throughout Fall 2019 quarter to do our best. Her main message that she taught me is that we do not have to be perfect, we just need to try our best. I had to stop doing ASL this quarter because of a time conflict, unfortunately. However, I will pick ASL up again next year after Gen Eds are done. 

we are all made of storiesSomeone could have just lost their hearing in one ear but can still considered Deaf. Someone could have lost their hearing in both ears, as well and be Deaf. There are a variety of ways people either become Deaf from birth to later on in one’s life. As time goes on, more elderly people in our lives can lose their hearing and ASL could be a very beneficial skill to learn. So if we do lose some of our hearing, this could be another way we communicate with each other in the future.    

ASL is becoming more common in pop culture from models such as Nyle DiMarco from the show Switched at Birth and Dancing with the Stars. Marlee Matlin has been in a variety of shows as well. I have noticed more sign/ASL exposure through movies, shows, and media coming out. This includes but not limited to a character on the show You from Netflix. More and more videos of employees ranging from amusement parks to restaurants learning ASL to be able to serve more of their audience/customers. ASL should be seen just as important of a language like Spanish and French because the more people we meet, you never know, you might meet a Deaf person in public and are curious to start a conversation with them, and get to know them for who they are.  

Person pointing remote at a TV that is displaying NetflixIf you are curious on how you can start learning the language, start off easy. Look up the ASL alphabet, practice with someone, and who knows maybe you can start a domino effect and more and more people want to start as well with the same kind of passion. There are also ASL apps that can give you a head start. If you get into that, take some classes or go to a Deaf event near you and practice with the ASL community. ASL has changed my life for the better as this community is very welcoming for anyone wanting to learn and embrace it. They want to make people feel included and encourage others to learn more about their community and their language. Who knows, maybe ASL will change your life for the better like it did mine!