Thanks for hanging out with us today as we talk about something that I think is very important – SIGN LANGUAGE! Today is American Sign Language Day, so we shared some of the history and some facts about Sign Language to celebrate today!

There are many ways to communicate, and thousands of languages, each with their own various dialects. However, when considering the languages of the world many people forget those that don’t use the voice at all. Throughout the world there are those who are not born with the gift of verbal speech, and have had to find another way to communicate. The written word is one such method, but away from a computer it’s clumsy for casual conversation, and thus was born languages that include the use of hand signs to express meaning and share ideas. Appropriately enough, they’re known as Sign Languages, and American Sign Language (ASL) is one of the most prominent forms in the world.

ASL has an incredibly long history, given the age of the country in which it was born. In 1815 a school for the deaf was established with the intent of creating a cohesive language for those who could not use verbal speech. It was a remarkable leap forward for the time, and through the combination of several extant sign languages, Native American signals, French Sign Language, and even one for that was specifically created in Martha’s Vineyard (Known appropriately enough as Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language) the American Sign Language (ASL) was born.

There are many misconceptions about hearing loss and those that are deaf and there are so many blogs and articles that speak to these. Check out 10 misconceptions about hearing loss from Hearing Like Me here!
There are some instances where children are born deaf, but there a lot of instances where hearing loss comes later in life. Over 15 percent of the US reports some hearing troubles—that comes out to about 37 million American that suffer from some form of hearing loss! Learning Sign Language can be beneficial even if you have no deaf family members or you yourself are not deaf. It may come in handy some day. Read some more statistics about hearing loss here! Read more statistics about deafness here. Some of these might surprise you.

Here are some facts about Sign Language…

1. Sign language varies from country to country. Most of the country have their own sign language or share a certain sign language but, with a different dialect.
2. Sign languages have their own definite grammar. For instance, a well constructed question must be accompanied by the correct eyebrow position. When a person is asking questions related to who, where, what, why and when, then the eyebrows are kept down. If the question is regarding a yes/no situation, the eyebrows are kept up.
3. Brain injury damages the perception of sign language in the same way like other spoken languages. A person who has a brain injury might be able to produce signs but,cannot put them in correct grammatical order.
4. Sign language doesn’t only use signs to communicate. It uses facial expression, hand movement and position,gestures and body language to communicate.
5. In the American Sign Language (ASL), the alphabets can be demonstrated using one hand. However, in German and British Sign Languages, two hands are used.
6. In ASL, all the signs pertaining to women (such as wife, daughter etc.) are signed near to the jawline. On the other hand, men related signs (such as father, boy etc.) are signed by the forehead.
7. Deaf people often use name signs to refer to people. These name signs are attributed to each person and doesn’t requires fingerspelling the entire name. When you meet a deaf person, it is a practice to tell them your name sign.
8. Each sign is composed of five components. Any change in them will change the entire meaning of the sign.
– Orientation, handshape, location, movement and expression (facial and body)
9. Direction of the palm can change the entire meaning of the sign.
10. Two movement of the same handshape can have separate meanings.

For our Mystery Question today, we, of course, made it topic related.
The question: What percentage of deaf children are born to hearing parents?
The answer? 90%
Congratulations to Henry from Howard for correctly guessing!

Being deaf or having a deaf family member is not a prerequisite for you to learn to sign, and honestly, it’s not a complicated language to learn.
Here’s a link to some easy ways to start picking up the language!
I know it’s a little out there, but I’ve been watching a show called “Switched at Birth” where one of the main characters is deaf, so there is a lot of signing that happens in the show, which is a great way to kinda subconciously pick up on some signs while watching an entertaining TV show. You can check out some of the misconceptions and topics that the show covers here and how the show is diving deeper into deaf culture.

I also have an app on my phone called “Sign School”. This app allows me to look up most simple signs without having to pay an additional fee.

Thanks for l
– Lilly and Hannah