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Interesting Facts about ASL

Did you know that there are over 200 distinct sign languages in the world!  Yup, 200 and counting!

As you will learn from communicating with Deaf people and in Deaf History classes. Deaf people who communicate using sign language are so proud of their history!  Here in the United States, Deaf education plays a significant role-if not the most significant role-in the foundation of American Sign Language (ASL).  Actually, ASL is most closely related to French Sign Language due to the intense history between the French, "Institut National de Jeunes Sourds de Paris," and Thomas Gallaudet the co-founder of the American School for the Deaf.  However, sign language is just one part of Deaf Culture.  

Your turn, share what you have learned about the history of sign languages.

21 Comments to Interesting Facts about ASL:

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Juanita Duvall on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 7:32 PM
I love learning ASL, its a little difficult, but rewarding. I learned about the history of ASL and its origins in ASL 1. What I did not realize is that there are so many distinct sign languages in the world. Thanks for sharing!
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Kacie O'Connell on Thursday, January 26, 2017 6:56 PM
I agree! ASL has always interested me, too! It surprised me how little I knew about this language.

Ivelianisse Morales on Saturday, February 25, 2017 5:43 PM
It breaks my heart that there are still countries around the globe that haven't recognized sign as an actual language. It has been nearly 4 decades since it was accepted here in the US, how many more decades must pass before globally people accept that sign languages are languages used for communication that tie people together.

Krista Tudisco on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 9:11 PM
The fact that, not until recently (80's I believe), ASL became a recognized true language amazes me. From it's beginning with Gallaudet until now, the road ASL had endured, has been rocky to say the least. All that I have learned makes me frustrated with the hearing professionals whom have felt best qualified to make decisions regarding the Deaf and their language. ASL has been the only 2nd language I've wanted to learn and I am thrilled I have the opportunity to finally learn it. I hope to one day be an advocate while using this beautiful language.
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Kacie O'Connell on Thursday, January 26, 2017 7:06 PM
It frustrates me, too, to think of the hardships and prejudices that the Deaf community has has to face in the past. I think its awesome that you feel so strongly about this and you're taking steps to make a difference!

Kacie O'Connell on Thursday, January 26, 2017 7:23 PM
One thing I was interested to learn about while attending a Deaf community event is how close-knit the community is. I was told that deaf people share personal information with each other and are very open and straight forward. I loved learning about the closeness and bond the community has.

Cynthia Rivera on Saturday, January 28, 2017 12:37 AM
There are a lot of successful Deaf professionals who should be making decisions for their community. A hearing professional can be an ally, but they should not be running the show.

kayla brodeur on Friday, February 03, 2017 8:47 PM
I think that it is awesome that you feel so strongly about this ongoing situation. It is wonderful that you want to do more for that Deaf community as a whole and are so passionate about learning more on Deaf Culture.

Anthony Santiago on Sunday, February 05, 2017 3:12 PM
Hi Krista, Yes, I agreed with you. However, I believe on my opinion that more awareness could've been developed. I have always want to learn Sign Language. Reality is either I don't pay enough attention regardless Propaganda and awareness wise to be introduce or encourage to make us aware about this community. Our society is so attached to technology that its impossible to go by and realized who in our community is deaf or have a hearing impediment. Now, I can see effort do to having a family member who is deaf. Now I want to ensure that this family member get to feel aspire to achieve greatness regardless any impediments.

Ivelianisse Morales on Saturday, February 25, 2017 5:41 PM
I find it sad really that Sign Language, not just American, is not taking seriously. This is an actual language with its own history and culture and heritage. I think that the deaf community has a such a rich culture and a tight-knit community. Anywhere I go and I see someone signing and boom I always think hey look a friend I know I can walk up to them. Unlike with my oral languages.

Krista Tudisco on Sunday, February 26, 2017 4:55 PM
Ivelianisse, I like what you said about the language, seeing someone signing and feeling an instant connection. ASL is such a big part of the Deaf Culture and one of the binding qualities. As a hearing person, I feel my connection with other people is much smaller and more limited; location, family, close friends, etc. Like you mentioned, someone in the Deaf community has an instant friend because of their shared language, regardless of location. I've heard personal stories of Deaf people meeting other Deaf people while on vacation or traveling and because they have that connection of the Deaf culture and ASL, an instant bond is formed. I think that is quite awesome!

Ivelianisse Morales on Thursday, March 02, 2017 10:13 AM
Krista, I completely agree that our connection as hearing people is much smaller and limited to our family, coworkers, and friends. I guess speaking the mainstream language robs us of feeling part of a community.

Kacie O'Connell on Thursday, January 26, 2017 7:26 PM
One thing I was interested to learn about while attending a Deaf community event is how close-knit the community is. I was told that deaf people share personal information with each other and are very open and straight forward. I loved learning about the closeness and bond the community has.
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Cynthia Rivera on Saturday, January 28, 2017 12:40 AM
I can't wait to learn ASL better and be able to be a part of the close-knit community.

Brenda Rosario on Friday, January 27, 2017 9:46 PM
This is my first time taking a ASL class and I'm so excited to really be part of this community. I didn't know there was so many different sign language in the world, my ignorance was that sign language was universal. Reading the post and the information that you all share here is very importance to others. I can't wait into I'm able to write some of my experience with Deaf community and the warmth that they make you feel.
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Cynthia Rivera on Saturday, January 28, 2017 12:23 AM
I found interesting how ASL is closely related to French sign language. Before I took ASL level 1, I thought sign language was an international language. Now I know each country has their own sign language. I also learned American Sign Language is not only a language, but it has a rich culture.
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carole nelson on Monday, January 30, 2017 7:57 PM
I never knew that sign language was different in different countries. it was interesting to learn this. I am excited to learn ASL and then maybe i will tackle french sign language
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kayla brodeur on Friday, February 03, 2017 8:42 PM
When I was first introduced to the Deaf community, I had no idea that signing was different in other countries either. But as i started learning and signing more, I more understood how different countries developed signing in different ways. Just like any language, you can hear it being spoken in many different ways. There are many different ways in speaking Spanish, people who speak English in one state may say certain words differently in another. It all depends on where you come from and how you are brought up and taught to speak, or in this case, sign your language.

Chanly Duong on Monday, January 30, 2017 11:50 PM
Interestingly, I have never known that sign language has a very strong root that way. I think not only people in this community to be proud of but our society are, too.
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Luz Dejesus on Saturday, February 04, 2017 7:17 PM
Like many of you, I didn't know sign language wasn't universal and it had over 200 hundred sign languages. I find that fact to be very interesting just because it would help me when I visit another country. I won't look stupid when they don't know what I'm saying.
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Ivelianisse Morales on Saturday, February 25, 2017 5:33 PM
I decided to look into Italian Sign Language and I stumbled upon this research paper. The intro poem alone, written in 1971, captured my attention and made me think about all the children forced into hearing schools or have hearing parents who do not know sign language. How they are deprived of so many things because they cannot communicate. In Italy, deaf children are put into mainstream classes with hearing children. On one part I feel happy that they are not treated like second class but then comes the part that schools "do not offer comprehensive assistance". Yes, they are smart and can do as well as hearing children but only if they are taught in their language, much like foreign language speakers. if they do not know the language they cannot understand and be able to be at the same level.Deaf students are then expected to either hear via CI or any auditory help and lip read. they author of the article points out that lip reading seems to be easier than in English but either way, lip reading is not easy. Italy has 3 deaf schools and 2 (high schools) of them do not even use a formal sign language. I am so upset by this. The oral communication I get is a big deal, okay but Deaf schools that promote oral communication? That is not fair that does not deserve to be called a deaf school. They children are still deprived of communication expected to speak a language they cannot hear. They basically speak using body language and writing. I am glad that they are very literate but I am so upset by this information. I hope that in the 10+ years since this article has been written things have changed. the third school is an elementary/middle school. Here they do use LIS (Italian Sign Language for its letters in Italian) as well as signed Italian (Italian translated into signs) and oral language for teaching and communicating. Even though children at this school are bilingual and bicultural they are required t respond in oral language even if they are being taught in sign. Also students sometimes (1/4 of the time) have assistants to help with the classes. I am happy that the children start off with a good(ish) foundation (the ones that attend this school at least) before being told that they should not sign (the school emphasizes oral communication as do high schools, society, and the workplaces.) the article continues with the author telling us of when he taught LIS, he himself is not a native and was raised in oral language as many of his students. Yet they would choose and prefer sign language. Again I hope in the years since then Deaf schools and Italian society have become more accepting of LIS.
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