Mistakenly, many people think that American Sign Language is a code system like Morse Code or Braille just with different symbols (Alliance, par 6). American Sign Language is actually a series of hand signs and symbols that are used when communicating with the deaf (NMCDHH, par1). It consists of not only hand gestures but facial features such as eyebrow motion and lip-mouth movements (Nakamura 1). Because deaf people hear with their eyes instead of their ears, it is considered to be rude not to make eye contact while communicating with a deaf person (Basic, par 14).
American Sign Language is used by the Deaf community not only in the United States but in English speaking parts of Canada (Nakamura 1). Until the eighteenth century not a lot was known about American Sign Language (About, par1). An estimated 2,000 deaf people lived in the United States at that time (About, par1). During this time period deaf people were denied human rights (About, Par 2). There are many interesting facts of the history of communicating with deaf people, how to communicate with the deaf, and much advancement for the deaf community.
American Sign Language’s exact beginning is unknown (American, par 3). Charles-Michael Abee de L’epee founded the first school, in France, to achieve public support for the deaf (About, par 1). Students came from all over the country for this (About, par 1). He is famous in France for being the founder for deaf organized education throughout the whole world, he has now built twenty one schools (About, par 1). Also, Laurent Clerc was America’s first deaf teacher (About, par 2). Him and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet founded America’s first school for the deaf people, they also, in Hartford, Connecticut, co-founded American School for the Deaf (About, par 2). Lip reading and oralism was declared the appropriate way to communicate, signing became not acceptable in 1880 (About, par 5). In 1965 William Stoke published the dictionary of American Sign Language (About, par 5). Up until the eighteenth century deaf people were not allowed to buy homes, get an education, or sign marriage contracts.
While there are many interesting facts about communicating with the deaf, one of the strangest non-deaf people encounter is that they will tell you where they are going (Basic, par 17). This is considered being polite since deaf people can not hear when a person leaves the room (Basic, par 17). Always make sure to have a deaf person’s attention before trying to communicate or speak (Tips, par 5).
The acceptable way to get a deaf person’s attention is waving a hand or lightly touching their shoulder (Tips, par 5). There should never be physical barriers between people during conversations (Basic, par 15). This is because a person’s face and facial expressions are important when communicating with a deaf person (Basic, par 18). Barriers include covering the mouth with a hand or a long mustache or beard (Tips, par 7). Though it is considered polite for non deaf people to say “excuse me” to walk between people having a conversation rude for deaf people (Basic, par 19). Deaf people consider this as interrupting a conversation (Basic, par 19).
It helps to communicate with deaf people by using body language and pantomime (Communication, par 4). Most deaf people appreciate when hearing people make an attempt to communicate with non deaf people (Communicating, par 5). Also, when saying goodbye to a deaf person make sure to use (SK) for signing off and (GA) for go ahead, and don’t ever end the conversation without making sure the other person is ready to end the conversation (Tips, par 9).
Many times an interpreter can be used when a non deaf person is communicating with a deaf person (Communicating, par 3). When talking to the interpreter or hearing what the deaf person signs always look at the deaf person not the interpreter (Communicating, par 3). Do not shout while communicating with a deaf person because no matter how loud your voice is the words will not be heard by a deaf person (Communicating, par 1).
There have been many communication methods developed since the eighteenth century (Basic, par 2). Hearing aides are used for people that have a wide range of hearing loss (Basic, par 16). The TTY is a machine for deaf or hearing people to communicate over the phone with other people who have equipment by typing messages to and from each other, back and forth (Communicating, par 10). This is also known as Relay Services (Communicating, par 10).
In the 1980s closed captioning for television was developed (National, par 1). Closed caption brought deaf people into the mainstream (National, par 1). This was considered the most important development for that century (National, par 1). It officially started in March 16 1980 (National, par 1). This allowed deaf people in America to read and understand what they had been missing on television (National, par 11). The caption decoder was an overnight success (National, par 12).
The University of Washington engineers developed the first cellular device over the United States to transmit American Sign Language (University, par 1). The engineers have been working to improve video signals for sign language (University, par 2). They have increased the image quality around the hands and the face, they have brought data rate down to thirty kilobits per second and still having delivered sign language (University, par 2). Also, MobleASL uses motion detection to tell whether a person is signing or if the person is not, to save the battery life when using the video (University, par 2). This test began July 18 of 2010 and ended that Wednesday, a larger study will be done during the winter (University, par 5).
Parents are their child’s acquisition of language, a deaf child born to parents that are deaf who know sign language already will begin to learn it naturally just like a hearing child learns its parents spoken language (American, par 1). Also, hearing parents choose to teach their own deaf children sign language (American, par 1). Today’s deaf people can now use cell phones by using the video (University, par 2). They can now watch television and understand what is going on and what they are watching (National, par 1). Also, they can now talk on the phone or use a telephone because of the TeleTYpewriter (Communicating, par 10).
About American Sign Language. 2010. “About ASL.” 10 Nov. 2010
Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts. 2008. “Listening with an Open Eye Background.” 27 October 2010
American Sign Language. Feb. 2008. American Sign Language. 27 October 2010
Collins, Bill. Signwriting. 2 Dec. 1997. “Signwriting and American Sign Language.” 27 October 2010
Nakamura, Karen. Deaf Resource Library. 28 March 2008. “About American Sign Language.” 27 October 2010
National Captioning Institute. “A Brief History of Captioned Television.” 11 November 2010
“Sign Language.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. 6 (1 July 2010): 1 of 4. History Reference Center. EBSCO. Brandon Public Library. 27 October 2010
University of Washington News. 16 Aug. 2010. “Deaf, Hard-of-hearing Students do First Test of Sign Language by Cell Phone.” 27 October 2010
Walker, Lou Ann. Losing the Language of Silence.” 13 Jan. 2008. New York Magazine. 27 October 2010
“William C. Stoke. Jr.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2010 ed.