American Sign Language

A New World

When my husband I found out that our son was deaf, and after we dealt with the shock of the news, we knew that we had a long road ahead of us as parents. We knew nothing about the deaf culture. We knew nothing about sign language or the challenges that he was going to face as he grew older. Even though we knew nothing, we knew we had to learn something in order to give our son the best possible chance at life. So, we started at the only place that seemed logical, we started with American Sign Language.

The ASL Alphabet

Teach Yourself

Books for Learning

Sign Language: My First 100 Words
Sign Language: My First 100 Words

Featuring cool computer-generated illustrations and a simple kid-friendly design, this reference book for the youngest readers makes learning sign language fun and easy! Learn 100 basic signs for everyday use in helpful categories, such as Food, Colors, Animals, In the Classroom, and more! Also included are instructions on how to fingerspell the entire alphabet and numbers.

 
Talking with Your Hands, Listening with Your Eyes: A Complete Photographic Guide to American Sign Language
Talking with Your Hands, Listening with Your Eyes: A Complete Photographic Guide to American Sign Language

Especially valuable are the educational sidebars on what it's like to live as a deaf person in the U.S., including a suggested reading list on the history of deaf culture, a discussion of how technology has created more career options for deaf people and a list of American films featuring deaf protagonists. Index.

 
Signing Illustrated: The Complete Learning Guide
Signing Illustrated: The Complete Learning Guide

Here is the complete learning guide that teaches American Sign Language by "category," the most popular and preferred method of teaching and learning. This easy-to-use guide is updated and expanded to include new computer and technology signs and offers a fast and simple approach to learning.

 
Signing For Dummies
Signing For Dummies

Signing For Dummies gives you a general understanding of the properties of Sign, as well as an understanding of Deaf culture. Designed to act as an introduction or a refresher, the book focuses solely on ASL. Although certainly not the only form of Sign Language, ASL is the most popular in the Deaf community within the United States.

 

It is estimated that between 500,000 to 2 million people in the United States use American Sign Language as a means of communicating. There is little history of American Sign Language in the United States prior to 1817, and it is theorized that home sign was used. This type of sign was developed between families and included hand gestures. American Sign Language was born when a French teacher came over to the US and started a school for the deaf. Because of this reason, American Sign Language and French Sign Language are 60% similar.

There are many forms of sign language, however American Sign Language is what is used in America, Canada, and parts of Mexico. And while ASL used to be just a language for the deaf, many schools and colleges offer ASL as a second language like French or Spanish. ASL and English have many things is common as the words and such as spelled the same. The differences lie in the order of the words. For example, if you were going to say that “He likes to play chess”, you would have to sign, “Chess- He Likes”. For someone used to speaking English, American Sign Language can be tricky to learn because of all the different things you have to remember.


One of the first things that we did was to learn the alphabet in sign language. Learning the alphabet is a great way to get started because even if you do not know the sign for the word you want to use, you can always finger spell it. Finger spelling is often used because it can add more emotion and emphasis to the words instead of just using the signs for them. The American sign language alphabet is easy to learn compared to other aspects of the language. If you don't have someone that can teach you, you can teach yourself.


Because we were dealing with a child, we didn't throw ourselves into learning all the signs and the correct way to sign, instead we focused on the signs that he was going to use first. Similar to teaching a baby to talk, we would sign eat when it was time to eat and bed when it was time for sleep. It was a learning experience for us, as we didn't have anyone telling us if we were right or wrong with the signs. We just went out of a book that was given to us and we had some help from our son's therapists. Some of the first signs we learned were eat, drink, bye, please, thank you, bed, toilet, and I love you.


As time has gone by, and he learns more and more sign, my husband and I are kept on our toes. He is now coming home from school with signs that we have never seen before and it forces us to study harder so that we are able to communicate with him. The roles are reversed and he is teaches us the signs he is learning. My Signing for Dummies book has been a great resource!


Learning American Sign Language is difficult, similar to learning any other foreign language. The trick is to start small so that you don't feel so overwhelmed. I remember when I was first learning how to sign watching a women sign on TV during an interview. I was amazed at the beauty behind the movements, however I felt overwhelmed that I would never be able to get to that level. I am still not at that level, but I am able to pick up a sign here or there, which is considerably better than when I first started. So, start small and learn the little words first. The rest will fall into place with the right about of dedication and willingness to learn.


Additional Resources

ASL Pro

Videos, images, and a great site for learning sign language. 

ASL Browser

Another site for ASL videos, images, and tutorials 

Lifeprint

A great site for learning ASL and also offers teaching plans for educators.

Signing Time

This a great souce for children and even adults.  It is signing made simple.

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Comments 3 comments

Dharya 6 years ago

Bravo Christina...I loved your hub!...genuinely!...I am speechless!...Great example of positive attitude and love!...love to you and your beautiful family! Cheers!...


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ChristinaScibona 6 years ago from The Heart of the Finger Lakes Author

Thank You Dharya. Your comments are greatly appreciated.


SignGirl 4 years ago

Good for you!! So many parents of deaf children just give up or don't try to learn sign language and their children suffer because of it. Your attitude is impressive--wonderful!

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