Sign language has been around for as long as there have been Deaf individuals in the world. Contrary to popular belief, sign language is not a universal language. In fact, hundreds of different forms of sign language exist all over the world. In San Diego, as well as across the United States, the form of sign language used is American Sign Language. Sign language is a complete language that uses hand motions, facial expressions, and posture to communicate. Learning this language requires basic knowledge about the principles governing sign language.
When using sign language, it is necessary to look straight into the eyes of the instructor or the person signing. In Deaf culture, breaking eye contact is taken as an insult. Even though extended eye contact can feel uncomfortable at first, it is essential that you make and maintain eye contact to show the Deaf person courtesy. In addition, looking away will cause you to miss information since many signs are reinforced by facial expressions that vary in meaning. These small gestures are referred to as non-manual behavior.
While studying ASL, you will come across the terms “base hand” and “dominant hand.” During many signs, the dominant hand moves while the base hand does not move. Either the right or left hand can be used as your dominant hand, however you have to be consistent. It is recommended that you use your right hand as the dominant hand to make the signing easier.
For you to learn ASL effectively, it is mandatory that you practice. Regular meetings – at least one per week – and strictly using only signs during practice sessions will greatly improve your signing skills. Many schools teach ASL classes and provide online courses that can help you master this beautiful language of signs.
Contact CLIP Interpreting today to find out about costs for scheduling an ASL interpreter for your next event.