Even if you are not hard of hearing and have no speaking problems, you can still learn one of the most wonderful languages, which is sign language. There are many reasons to learn ASL.
One of the several reasons to learn ASL is that there are people who are hard of hearing and speaking who solely use ASL to communicate with others. When you know how to do sign language, you are able to communicate with the deaf people and the deaf and mute community.
Before we dig deeper on why you should learn this type of language or communication, we must first understand what sign language is.
What is Sign Language?
Sign language is communication using gestures and movement using the hands, arms, upper body, and facial expressions. Sign language is primarily used by people who have difficulty hearing, speaking.
What is American Sign Language?
Different sign languages are used in other countries. The sign language in a specific country has the same linguistic properties of their local spoken language.
American Sign Language (ASL) is a sign language used by approximately 250,000-500,000 Americans (and some Canadians) of all ages. Some countries adopt features of ASL in their sign languages. ASL has its own rules for pronunciation, word format, and word formation.
What are the Important Reasons to Learn American Sign Language (ASL)?
1. Learn a lot about deaf culture and their community.
ASL is important and is an essential communication tool for deaf and hard-of-hearing people. People who are not deaf but cannot hear well can also use sign language.
Just like any other foreign (oral) language, you also get to learn the deaf culture and community of that particular language. The same goes for sign languages as it is the native language of the deaf community.
Deaf advocate Eileen O’Banion said, “When you are Deaf, you see the world in a different way. You communicate differently. You seek out others who are Deaf because they understand you. You don’t believe you have a disability—and you don’t want to be fixed.”
Learning sign language allows you to connect to others who are deaf and truly understand them and the deaf culture.
2. Build relationships with new people.
Learning ASL will naturally connect you and help you build relationships with the deaf community. This is only one of the social benefits of learning ASL. You will have a better understanding of their challenges and learn more about deaf awareness.
You can also help raise deaf awareness too. This is by promoting the positive aspects of deafness and encouraging other people to support deafness-related organizations.
3. It is easy to learn
ASL is easier to learn as a second language than you think. The manual alphabet is usually the first lesson, to begin with, and it is just quick to learn after some practice. This alphabet is a set of sign-language symbols in which letters are represented by finger configurations.
After you have learned to sign language alphabet or fingerspelling, you can start to dive deeper into the American Sign Language (ASL). Learning ASL is not difficult at all. Just like learning any other foreign language, learning ASL takes time but becomes more intuitive, the more you practice it.
There are online courses like the American Sign Language from Skill Success that is designed for those interested in ASL. Deaf ASL expert Judy Vardon teaches sign languages in video lessons. She has been Deaf since the age of two.
The topics that will be covered are the following: Alphabet, Spelling & Names, Introductions, Family & Rooms in the House, Animals, Numbers, Money & Time, Time & Weather, Transport & Directions, Interests & Hobbies, Food & Drink.
4. Help stimulate and boost your brain.
Another one of the benefits of learning sign language is that it gives your brain a good workout. This is yet another one of the reasons to learn ASL even if you think you don’t really need to.
According to a report, learning a second language, foreign language, or being bilingual can boost brainpower. It enriches and enhances your cognitive processes. You become a better problem-solver, you have better listening skills, you think more creatively, improve memorization, and more.
5. You can use sign language all the time
You can use ASL in making conversation, anytime, anywhere, as long as you are communicating with anyone who also knows how to do ASL. You can use sign language when speaking is impossible. For example, if you are in a concert where the environment is really loud, when you are underwater, when the person you are talking to is too far across the room or when there is a window or glass between you.
6. Sharpens your peripheral vision
According to research done by the University of Sheffield, people who know how to sign language have better reaction times and peripheral vision. Their study provided evidence that deaf adults have the best peripheral vision and reaction times compared to hearing adults and sign language users. This is highly beneficial in many sports and when driving.
According to Dr. Charlotte Codina, lead author of the study and Lecturer in Orthoptics at the University of Sheffield, “Deaf adults have faster reaction times around the whole of the visual field, extending as far as 85 degrees peripherally near the edge of vision.”
7. Improves your communication skills
Sign language not only helps you express words but your feelings too. This is yet another one of the many reasons to learn ASL even if you’re not deaf or mute. It also involves many other aspects of communication, like body language. According to a study from investigators at UC Davis and UC Irvine, people who use sign language are quicker at recognizing and interpreting body language than hearing non-signers. Body language is an integral part of communication.
8. Be able to assist those with hearing or speaking difficulties when required
Since only a few people know how to sign, people who have difficulties in hearing and speaking face challenges in the world we live in.
For example, if you happen to be in a shop and spot a communication barrier between two people where a deaf person is involved, you can step in and assist by speaking and using sign language.
You can also sign up to volunteer in an organization where they need help from a person who is capable of doing sign language and speaking.
Looking at the important points above, it is apparent that there are many benefits to learning ASL. It is simply a beautiful language with many amazing benefits. It also feels amazing having the ability to converse using ASL and connect with the deaf and mute community.
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