American Sign Language: The Importance Of Sign Language In America

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Imagine you are at your local grocery store and you have a question about a product but you are not able hear what other people are saying and have no efficient way to communicate with others. This is the life most deaf individuals must endure. Imagine the relief that a deaf individual must experience when they run into another person who understands and speaks sign language and is able to communicate with them. I feel it is vital that more individuals should learn and use sign language and most, if not all, school districts should offer instruction in it. American Sign Language (ASL) has evolved in Canada and the United States as a means for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to express their thoughts, wants, needs, and ideas…show more content…
So why aren’t more people learning sign language if there are people we have seen and met that are deaf or hard of hearing in our community? I believe that this is because people are intimidated and apprehensive to approach someone different from themselves. It is intimidating because ASL is a language where each word, or even letter, has a different hand motion. It is different from spoken word due to the modality of the language as it is a visual and gestural language. Since only 5% of Earth’s population is deaf, many people may not personally know someone who is deaf and may therefore not realize the importance of learning ASL. However, in reality, one will come across more deaf people than you might expect. According to Gallaudet University, about 2 to 4 of every 1,000 people in the United States are “functionally deaf”. This number is 4 to 10 times higher if one includes all people with a severe hearing…show more content…
First, in the 1600’s, there was a group of people in Martha’s Vineyard with a genetic mutation that resulted in a large deaf community. This resulted in various indigenous signs being used among the deaf members and eventually resulted in the first school for the deaf in Hartford, Connecticut in 1817. The second influence was French sign language brought to America by Laurent Clerc, a deaf teacher from France, who traveled to America with Thomas Gallaudet, a hearing American minister. The blending of the indigenous and French sign language formed the basis for American Sign Language as we know it today. While the deaf community has struggled for years to bring ASL to classrooms, there is much popularity in ASL among hearing parents and their babies. Sign language allows a parent to be able to communicate with their baby many months earlier than a typical non-signing parent. Studies have shown that signing babies have a bigger vocabulary, understand more words and engage in more sophisticated play than non-signing

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