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.
@imallears, My mother grew up in an orphanage and learned sign language as a kid and was really good with it. I'm just sorry I didn't learn it from her growing up. I haven't signed up for this yet but am still thinking about it because it's a go at your own pace online course.
Mary, I too find that the receptive skills require much more practice than the expressive skills in ASL. If we don't use it we lose it. And like you Mary, I never became fluent in ASL.
But there have been a few times when I've been able to use sign language to communicate in some challenging circumstances. One was just last week. I was on a "town hall meeting" using Microsoft Teams. My audio out was not working so no one could hear me. I had to type my question into the "chat". One of the attendees who could see me asked if I'd like him to read my question to the attendees for me and I signed "yes". He recognized the sign because he knew ASL and helped me communicate using ASL for the Q&A session.
A person never knows when another language may be helpful. And a person of my advanced years has a brain that can use some mental gymnastics once in a while to slow the aging process. I "signed" up for the classes too.