ASL (sign language)
ASL won’t fix hearing loss, but it may help us with communications. And you don’t have to replace any batteries.
This subject doesn’t get much discussion in hard of hearing communities. Seems that most hearing folks try everything to remain in the hearing world even under very compromising circumstances. Others resign themselves to the deaf community more easy. It is a very gray area.
About 1 1/2 years ago I took up ASL for 2 reasons. One, to improve my ability to communicate, and Two, to stimulate my aging brain by learning a new language. I think ASL is meeting both of my objectives. Because I live in a very rural area it was difficult to find classes to attend so I started by some of the on-line sites to “test the water”. Then I found some ASL classes in community education programs around Duluth (a 50-mile drive). I also took ASL I&II at Univ of WI Superior (tuition was free). Those classes were a good start and besides learning ASL they lead to other contacts and resources I hadn’t known about before.
I was surprised by how many people know some ASL but at the same time disappointed by how few people use ASL. ASL requires both expressive and receptive skills that require practice and becoming fluent requires a strong commitment. Most Deaf (with a big D) people and late deafened adults are happy to help learners like me and tolerate my mistakes well. It is a great experience to attend a deaf event. I’ve learned a lot. But it isn’t easy. Then analogy I use is that it is like going swimming – you can wade into the water to try to get used to it, but to swim you have to plunge in at some point.
I’m curious about the thoughts of others here.
Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Hearing Loss Support Group.
ASL is a beautiful language and I attended some classes about 10+ years ago and occasionally (once a month) associate with other deaf and HOH people at the local HLAA group. I have forgotten all but a few signs but it is amazing how fast you pick up when someone else is signing. And yes, they are patient and enjoy teaching me.
Like so many, I grew up in a hearing world and am late deafened…wear 2 hearing aids and have had a progressive loss over the years. All of my friends are and have been in the past hearing….same situation at work (now retired). I don’t use ASL and rarely encounter someone who does and it’s usually a young person who chose that language in school. I have books and have gone on online BUT, if you don’t use it on a daily basis…you will never become proficient enough to be able to communicate.
So it’s not that we choose to live in a hearing world deliberately or are not interested in learning, it’s the fact that these people are our friends and family whom we are in contact every day. Some of my friends know some signs I have taught them because it’s fun but that’s it. We adapt. I could actively seek out some people who sign but honestly don’t have the interest or time. I am more interested in advocating for accommodations and trying assisted
devices and helping people with hearing loss on an individual basis and making hearing people more aware of hearing loss. My friends and family accommodate me and I love teaching new people how to do so and what to do when encountering someone with hearing loss. To me that’s more important than becoming fluent in ASL. I know I won’t use it because the opportunities are not there.
Regards and thanks for a new and interesting topic…..FL Mary
Very well said. I couldn't agree more.
I had always wanted to learn it. I know a few signs, basically the alphabet and a couple of popular signs. But I never got up the courage to really learn it because of the fear of not using it regularly. I am not exposed to people who use it on a regular basis. I do think it would help me greatly with being able to communicate with others.
That is a hard one. See "imallears" post above. But all people are different and live in different situations.
You really do need to "use it or loose it". There are opportunities to use it, but (at least where I live) they are hard to find. Some cities have great opportunities. There are deaf friendly cities and communities that YOU have to go find.
It has been a great challenge for my aging brain to learn ASL. My brain needs exercise just as much as my muscles do. That has been one of the benefits I have noticed.
I'd say go ahead and learn ASL – you'd be one more person to communicate with. And you'd gain some insights along the way.
I agree as well. It would be very interesting and fun to learn but I would have no one to use it with. All of my friends and family are fully hearing.
Yes, that is usually the case. But sometimes I'm surprised at finding some people who know at least some ASL. I have found myself at times signing as I talk and someone picks up on that. Also I have made a few new friends since learning ASL and that's good.
My wife and I just started an ASL class together in hopes that we can pick up a few signs to avoid her having to repeat everything. I was surprised and pleased to see children as young as 9 or 10 in the class. I don't know that we have your strong commitment but since I am 75% deaf now, I am going to give it a try. Thanks.
Wow, Good for you. Don't be surprised if the children learn faster than you do. They do very well learning.
I wish my wife had some interest in ASL.
I just saw this the other day on a friends Facebook page and wanted to share it in case anyone knows of folks that might like a free online course on ASL from the Oklahoma School for the Deaf. I believe they are available until July 31st, 2023.
— American Sign Language Classes: https://courses.osd.k12.ok.us/
Great info. I took ASL classes years ago and retained some signs but currently have no one to practice with. I just signed up because it is a beautiful language. I am thinking of sign in my everyday speech as a way of practicing. I already learned something new on reading the introduction.
The problem I always came across was that I was dismal at understanding other signers unless they spoke and signed simultaneously. I am going to give it a whirl.