What is ASL?

American Sign Language (ASL) is a visual language that uses the face, hands, and body. Signed languages, like spoken ones, are not universal. ASL is used in the United States, but there are many others worldwide, including BSL (British Sign Language) and LSE (Spanish Sign Language). Instead of telling, American Sign Language shows meaning. ASL can be more direct and expressive than English.

Why are visual languages important?

  • Aids in communication among Deaf/Hard of Hearing and other differently able groups
  • 3D mode of communication * watch the video toward end of post to see this in action*
  • Able to express thoughts and feelings that aren’t concrete terms in English

Bilingualism has other benefits, ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) says, such as:

  • Being able to use information in new ways
  • Coming up with solutions to problems

What is Deaf Culture?

Deaf culture is its own entity. It exists among other cultures, but Deaf people have unique etiquette, norms, and creative traditions that should be respected.
According to Gallaudet University:

The values, behaviors, and traditions of Deaf culture include[…] a variety of traditions: films, folklore, literature, athletics, celebrations, clubs, organizations, and theaters. Deaf culture also includes some of its own music and poetry as well as dance.

Pop culture doesn’t exclude Deaf/Hard of Hearing people, either. There are well-known celebrities who use ASL, including male model/Dancing with the Stars winner Nyle DiMarco.

*Watch the video below for a glimpse into ASL slam poetry.*

Fashion, art, fitness, writing, dance… Deaf talent is everywhere.  Keep an eye out for future interviews with impressive Deaf Americans.

— Sign Language Blitz

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Center, Gallaudet University and Clerc. American Deaf Culture. American Deaf Culture, Gallaudet University, Jan. 2015, www3.gallaudet.edu/clerc-center/info-to-go/deaf-culture/american-deaf-culture.html.

The Advantages of Being Bilingual. Averican Speech-Language-Hearing Association, ASHA, Jan. 2017, www.asha.org/public/speech/development/The-Advantages-of-Being-Bilingual/.

Image: Interpreter32.CapitolStage.38thCPF.WDC.9June2013 by Elvert Barnes is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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