The Importance of Sign Language

Sign language is a valuable communication method for the deaf and hard of hearing, along with their friends and family members. American Sign Language (ASL) is the primary language used among the hearing impaired in North America. Also, since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990, American Sign Language has increased in popularity as a college language course.

2 min read

Posted by Casandra Lee in Hearing Aid Lifestyle

 

How Common is Sign Language?

Sign language is among the most-used languages in the US, with an estimated 500,000 to two million users across the country. It’s impossible to produce a more accurate count than this because, unlike spoken languages, ASL is not included in the census.

Is Sign Language the Same Everywhere?

No. Different regions use unique sign languages, with differences even existing between English-speaking countries. For instance, someone using ASL won’t understand someone using British Sign Language or Australian Sign Language. Fluent users can even detect “accents” and “slang” from other users living in different parts of the country. International Sign Language is a popular choice at global meetings and events.

What are the Origins of American Sign Language?

The first sign language instructional book for the deaf was published in 1620 by Juan Pablo de Bonet. Linguistic experts believe that ASL dates back to the early 1800s, a result of local sign languages mixing with French Sign Language (LSF, or Langue des Signes Française). Because of this, modern ASL still includes some elements of LSF.

How Does ASL Compare to Spoken English?

ASL is a distinct language from spoken English, with its own rules for word formation, word order, and pronunciation. It also differs from simple signed English, with facial expressions and body movements playing an important role in conveying meaning. Fingerspelling is a part of ASL, but this is typically only used to spell out proper names or indicate the English word for something.

What Role Does Sign Language Play in Early Language Development?

Most deaf children are born to hearing parents, so learning sign language is often a family affair. Parents who learn ASL alongside their children usually find it easiest to communicate on a deeper level. It has also been shown that deaf children who learn ASL as soon as possible develop better language, cognitive, and social skills.

Even parents of normal-hearing children often teach their babies to sign so they can communicate hunger, thirst, and other needs before they’re able to speak. Some scientists argue that children who learn to sign develop better language skills later on.

While sign language is a useful tool, it isn’t the only way to improve communication among the deaf and hard of hearing. Children and adults with hearing loss may also benefit from wearing hearing aids. To find out if you’re a good candidate, schedule a free hearing test and consultation with Elite Hearing Centers of America. We offer 30-day, risk-free hearing aid trials to help you discover the benefits for yourself. For more information about our no-cost services, please call 855-487-9765 or contact us online. You’ll be glad you did!

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