Why ASL and Sign Language?
Aren’t those the same thing? Actually, no. As there are many variations of English, or Spanish, there are variations with communicating with your hands.
ASL, or American Sign Language, is a true language. Dr. Bill Vicars, creator of Lifeprint.com (a most amazing site!) says it best.
“ASL is a visual gestural language. That means it is a language that is expressed through the hands and face and is perceived through the eyes. It isn’t just waving your hands in the air. If you furrow your eyebrows, tilt your head, glance in a certain direction, lean your body a certain way, puff your cheek, or any number of other “inflections” –you are adding or changing meaning in ASL. A “visual gestural” language carries just as much information as any spoken language. There is much more to learning American Sign Language than just memorizing signs. ASL has its own grammar, culture, history, terminology and other unique characteristics. It takes time and effort to become a “skilled signer.” But you have to start somewhere if you are going to get anywhere–so dive in and enjoy.”
Signing English. There are multiple ways to sign English as well. A brief, but good, explanation was found on the Signing Savvy website (again, excellent resource.)
“Signed Exact English is a system to communicate in English through signs and fingerspelling. Signed Exact English, in most cases, uses English grammar (that is, you are signing English). The vocabulary is a combination of ASL signs, modified ASL signs, or unique English signs.”
So, what do you want to learn? That is left up to your resources, your time, your reason for learning signs or another language, and more. Here are some good resources to get you started. As Dr. Bill say, if you are going to learn signs or ASL, it takes time. Don’t give up! As always, you can call Beginnings SC or email us and get more information.
The best way to learn a language is with a native speaker, and in this case, a native signer. There are classes in several parts of the state. If you want to know about a class in your area, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is only a selection of resources online. Beginnings SC has no affiliation with any of these, although we wish we did!)
Lifeprint.com– This is the home of ASLU-America Sign Language University. Dr. Bill has created a volume of information, signs, videos, practice, and workshops.
ASLPro-This is another site that just keeps getting bigger and bigger, better and better. They “provide free, easy-to-use reference and learning tools to enhance in-classroom learning for ASL Educators and their Students.”
Signing Savvy-An online dictionary with great blog posts about language, Deaf community, signing, etc. For free, you can use the search tool and look up individual signs. With a paid membership you can search for phrases (more accurate for signing ASL,) print flash cards, create practice flashcards to practice online, etc.
Handspeak.com– Another great site! Free, online resources for language learners, teachers, parents, and well, anyone.
ASL Nook: Great videos in ASL from a cute family. “A nook like no others…Words, pictures, and stories come to life with the magic of American Sign Language (ASL). We welcome anyone who wants to learn ASL. Within our cozy nook, you will learn many new signs such as the alphabet, colors, emotions, animals, and beyond.”
Online Fingerspelling Quiz with Dr. Bill