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Why I Sign Campaign

Updated on March 25, 2016


If you are involved in the Deaf community then you've seen this hashtag (#WhyISign) circulating in social media and understand why it's so popular.

If not, let me explain what's going on.

What is #WhyISign about?

Stacy Abrams started the #WhyISign 48 hour campaign to encourage families who use sign language to communicate with their loved ones to express their reason to why they sign.

Stacy started off by saying she was born to hearing parents who both wanted to communicate effortlessly with their daughter and learned sign language. She wanted to show other families who are in the same situation as her family that they are not alone. She reached out to others who were in the same situation as her and asked, "Why do you sign?"

Many responded.

I sign because...

I sign because I want to have open communication between my two identities.

First Identity: Hearing

I was born with moderate hearing-loss in both ears. My parents found that despite my hearing-loss I was still able to communicate by voice because I was able to still able hear (a little). They decided to continue to communicate me with spoken language and help improve my hearing by getting hearing aids.

I grew up mainstreamed in public school where I took speech therapy throughout first grade and spoke and learned like every other kid at my school. I grew up with hearing friends and wasn't treated any different. I assimilated to the point where my teachers forgot I had a hearing impairment until I brought it up or they attended a Special Eduation Plan meeting with my parents. I never really thought about being deaf or indentifying as Deaf, because to me being Hearing was normal.

Fingerspelling Alphabet
Fingerspelling Alphabet | Source

Second Identity: Deaf

It wasn't until college when I learned sign language for the first time. I went to Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) where they have a college devoted for Deaf students and hearing students that want to learn sign language to become an interpreter called National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID). There I learned about Deaf culture and identity as well as the basics of ASL. Even though I was excited to meet other students who grew up like me and shared my experiences, I felt like I was stuck between two identities... my hearing identity and my deaf identity. I decided to learn sign language enough to be able to communicate with my deaf peers and teach my hearing friends along the way.

Blurring the Lines

Unfortunately, since leaving college, I haven't used ASL as much as I hoped. I am trying to get back into practicing ASL now and have taught my SO some signs in hopes to be able to communicate easier when I don't have my hearing aids on. It's a constant struggle because my SO has a hard time remembering signs, but we're slowly getting there. I hope one day, I'll be able to teach my kids sign language as well as the other languages that involve their identity such as Spanish and Japanese.

How Do You Feel About Learning Sign Language?

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