Why I Started Teaching Myself Sign Language

Like many people in the world, everyone knows a language. It can be basic English, Spanish, French, or Italian but another language that's slowly on the rise is Sign Language. Before I before I became invested in Sign Language I wanted to learn the other traditional languages that others hear about because I felt like they were more important in sign language. Very wrong. In this world, there are people who cannot speak or hear and Sign Language is the best possible thing they have in their life. Also, without sign language how would we know how to communicate with others who cannot verbally say what they needed or wanted?

The summer my mindset changed about sign language and I was faced with an opportunity to work with people who do not all communicate like you and I may do. This summer I work with the recreational center with children with a variety of different disabilities and it was an amazing experience. My entire group all had a variety of different personalities and wonderful backgrounds but a few of them could not communicate verbally.

In the beginning, it was really challenging. It was difficult for the children to understand me and difficult for me to understand them. Like most people, it was embarrassing for me to have to run to my peers to ask for help or for them to step in because I couldn't do it. Also like any other human being in the world, it's not always easy to ask for help because sometimes we feel like we're a burden, or we’re idiots because we can't figure something out on our own. but, they assured me that it will get better and by watching and observing then working with the students it made me envious and want to try harder to be able to do it too.

My love for children, and for humankind altogether, was the biggest push an inspiration for me to want to learn how to do sign language. I started thinking about how frustrating it must be to not be able to express yourself for others to understand and how it can make one feel bad because others are frustrated by not understanding. Like anyone else we all want to be understood, so I decided to make more of an effort.  I found myself going on Pinterest to learn simple things like how to say, mom or dad. To tell someone when I need their help or that I will talk to them later. And over these three months, it has been a very life-changing event and itself. Not because something drastic or dramatic has happened but, because I saw how meaningful underappreciated language is to people in a short amount of time.

Although summer is over and college has started I want to continue teaching myself as much sign language as I possibly can. Even though I know I will face many challenges such as working and school I intend to keep growing and knowledge of sign language because as meaningful as it is to me, I know it might be helpful to someone else!