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Sign Language

Learning Sign Language is very easy due to the great online resources available. Below are the best free online lessons and dictionaries that will ensure you learn sign language fast. Another upcoming form of sign language is baby sign language for communicating with your baby.

Below is a terrific introductory article where you can learn the basics and how to get started. You can help grow our learning community by contributing your knowledge to the article. Just click on the edit tab in the wiki article below.

Use the white subtabs above to navigate the other Sign Language resources. We have a Sign Language forum where you can get your questions & doubts answered, a page with Sign Language how-to videos, a page with the best handpicked links to other sites, and a page with the best Sign Language books and products.

Good Luck and Have Fun!
Duncan Davis


Intro


Communication is an integral part of our lives. By and large we use verbal communication. But there’s another language that is the third most used language in the US- and it is not spoken. It is sign language – a natural language that uses gestures to form the words we use to speak. American Sign Language or ASL is a beautiful way to communicate. Just imagine being able to communicate with gestures as well as words equally fluently. Many people are realizing that learning sign language can be a wonderful hobby that can easily turn into a high paying vocation in a variety of fields.


With sign language, you can talk to someone at a distance without actually using your voice. This is the beautiful language that has been developed to an art. It is the primary language used by those who cannot hear or speak. Sign language has opened up the world for them enabling them contribute to society regardless of their so-called handicap.


Sign language is from the perspective of the viewer rather than the person who ‘speaks’. Here facial expression, how you use your eyebrows, raising or lowering them and body language are part of the language. These give emphasis to what you intend to convey. When we speak, we use vowels and consonants. In sign language, it is the shapes of the hand, where you place your hand and the movements of your hand. While it is easy to learn sign language, you will find some specific nuances that are country or race specific. For example, what holds good in British sign language could differ from the sign language used in another country.


In terms of variation, different signs could be used for the same word in different areas. Some signs could be specific to males while some could be for females. Similarly, young kids could be using some signs while older people use certain signs.




American Sign Language Alphabet







How To Learn Sign Language



One of the best ways to get started with learning sign language is to learn from a deaf person. Many colleges offer ASL courses. You can also learn online, through subscription based websites which offer you plenty of resources in the form of the ASL dictionary and lessons. They also teach baby sign language, international sign language, using gestures and finger spelling that involve learning the alphabet in sign language.



To work as a sign language interpreter you might have to get an associate degree with on going certification. Colleges have workshops, tele-classes and opportunities for continuing education for those on a sign language program.



As a hobby, learning sign language has a lot of benefits. Apart from making you more sensitive to communication, you can talk to people with special needs. You can also communicate with babies long before they are able to actually speak, speeding up their progress. A major advantage of learning sign language is helping pre-verbal children to communicate their needs.



Learning sign language could also mean a new career for you. When you travel, you break the communication barrier by being able to use gestures. Did you know you could also communicate with animals using sign language?




Baby Sign Language



One adaptation of sign language that has been growing strongly is Baby Sign Language. Using simple signs (such as happy, more, food) parents can start to communicate with the baby more effectively. Studies have shown that babies can start to comprehend the signs starting around month 6-7 and they can start making the signs around month 10-11. Studies have shown that by practicing these signs with your baby, the baby can have increased linguistic development and speed of mental processing.




What sign language interpreters do



When you are well on your way to mastering sign language, you might want to work as a sign language interpreter, which is fulfilling work. Sign language interpreters are specially trained. They facilitate communication between deaf people, people who are hard of hearing and also those that can hear. You might find yourself working in the education industry or freelance. You could also be contracted with an agency to offer interpreter services. Sign language interpreters could also find work in schools and colleges.



To truly enjoy being a sign language interpreter you would need to be a person who is flexible, objective, self disciplined and motivated. You would also need to be sensitive to others, responsible and punctual. Interpreters earn as much as $50000; depending on who they work with, how much experience they already have and where they live, they might earn $50 an hour.



You can also teach the deaf and become involved in social work and counseling. Interpreters, like translators make cross cultural communication a reality. For this it is important to be sensitive to the cultures involved. Since it involves the conversion of spoken language into sign language and vice versa, the sign language interpreter must be focused on what is being said.



If you want to become a translator, you would be converting written material from one language to the other. For this you would need to develop your analytical and writing skills along with editing skills.



There is a big demand for sign language interpreters today since the requirement is more than the availability. You can choose to take it up as a part time or full time hobby. Here is an idea of the various situations where you can work as a sign language interpreter:



• In educational institutions


• Business situations when board meetings and seminars are held


• Community settings at meetings, the local library, and interviews


• etc. in short wherever deaf persons are employed


• Church where funerals, weddings etc., are involved


• Social service organizations


• Medical hospitals and rehab centers


• Legal situations which could be at the police station



As you can see, there is a lot of scope for using your sign language skills once you become proficient at it.



Now that you have a good idea of what it means to have a hobby that is so fulfilling and well paying at the same time, go ahead and get in depth knowledge of the subject at Discover A Hobby. Here you will find instructional videos and some very useful books that tell you all you need to know about sign language. This will help you become proficient in sign language, and who knows, you might just start off on a brand new career!