Sign language is one of the most powerful communication tools for people around the world. The current global pandemic, however, has installed a barrier in the way that people who are deaf or hard of hearing communicate. Because of stringent new guidelines related to face coverings and social distancing, the deaf and HoH communities are facing a new challenge in communicating with one another.
Especially with the current state of the world, learning the basics of American Sign Language (ASL) remains highly essential. The use of hand gestures, facial expressions, and lip reading are all vital components that make this language distinguishable.
Here are 3 quick tips to help you start learning Sign Language:
The internet, especially Youtube, is the best way to learn American Sign Language. Videos are a great resource and is the most effective and easiest way to learn sign language. These videos showcase instructors who often offer lessons on signing the alphabet, numbers, and conversational phrases.
Below are a couple of Youtube pages that can help start your journey:
- ASLMeredith : This is THE place to start learning sign language as it has helped me tremendously with my growth. Meredith is a certified instructor of ASL and is one of our favorites because of her willingness to teach and to help beginners get a grasp of sign language as a whole. She also offers a resourceful and quick course aimed to get you more conversational with the language. Check it out here.
- SignedWithHeart : SignedWithHeart is another great stepping stone. Ashley Clark goes over the basics finger spelling and common phrases. She is a great source for starters who want to pick up the language.
- Chris Gorges : His goal is simple. He wants “to offer free educational content to empower anyone to learn sign language online.” And he does just that. Chris will help you practice sign language through his easy lessons and courses until you become a master at it.
Remember to Sign along! You want to build that muscle memory of yours. When you come across a particular word or phrase, your hands will do the talking for you!
Join a Sign Language Community
Throughout each city, there has been a growing presence of deaf and hard of hearing cultures in which many people meet up and communicate through sign language. It’s a great place to meet new people with different hearing loss challenges and the different forms of sign language they use to speak with one another. Try reaching out to a few deaf organizations such as the National Association of the Deaf or the Hearing Loss Association of America and see if they have any local events near you.
If you find that there aren’t any deaf groups near by, look on meetup.com! There are many deaf groups on Meetup that I have personally attended and I can safely say that they were very resourceful. Most deaf Meetup groups these days are connecting through web interfaces such as Zoom, so you don’t have to leave the comfort of your home to start learning. Deaf Meetup groups are a great way to meet new people who are at different levels of Sign which in the long run will help you become more conversational! Facebook groups are also a great place to start learning!
Hey who knows, maybe you can start your very own group within your community once you feel comfortable with the language. :)
There are many apps people can start learning ASL today!
One of our favorites is ASL American Sign Language (Free). It has an interactive interface that will teach any beginner of Sign Language in no time. Coupled with a few pictured matchmaking ASL games, this is the perfect app for new learners.
If you really want to get in the swing of things, check out ASL dictionary at the app store! With over 5,200 ASL sign language videos, they are the most thorough! For a small price of $4.99, you too can pick up sign language in no time.
A Few Extra Pointers
Now that you have some essential resources, here are a few more tips to perfect your craft in ASL:
- Practice finger spelling! Learning the alphabet is a key starting point in learning ASL. Finger spelling is one of the easiest ways to speak with the deaf community.
- Watch interpreters! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Following interpreters at deaf events or at live TV events helps develop muscle memory especially for beginners.
- Use Facial Expressions! People who are deaf use facial expressions to elicit emotion in their conversation as well as determine its mood. Don't be afraid to become expressive when you speak! Sign language SHOULD bring out that emotion in you.
- Practice in Real Life! If you come across a person who is deaf in public don't be shy to test out your skills! They would love to interact with you! People who are deaf usually love it when they come across someone who knows sign language especially when it's out of the blue! It makes them feel more welcomed into society.
Now that you know how to get started, PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE! Look into the 3 community resources listed above and sign away! Click here to learn how we got started or check out our custom apparel to start spelling out anything your heart desires! :)
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