There are many ways to communicate, and thousands of languages, each with their own various dialects. However, when considering the languages of the world many people forget those that don’t use the voice at all. Throughout the world there are those who are not born with the gift of verbal speech, and have had to find another way to communicate. The written word is one such method, but away from a computer it’s clumsy for casual conversation, and thus was born languages that include the use of hand signs to express meaning and share ideas. Appropriately enough, they’re known as Sign Languages, and American Sign Language (ASL) is one of the most prominent forms in the world.
History of National ASL Day
ASL has an incredibly long history, given the age of the country in which it was born. In 1815 a school for the deaf was established with the intent of creating a cohesive language for those who could not use verbal speech. It was a remarkable leap forward for the time, and through the combination of several extant sign languages, Native American signals, French Sign Language, and even one for that was specifically created in Martha’s Vineyard (Known appropriately enough as Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language) the American Sign Language (ASL) was born.
Since it’s creation ASL has expanded throughout the world, being used in the majority of Canada, all throughout America, and has even expanded to areas like Central Africa, West Africa, and even Southeast Asia. Given it’s origin, it shares many commonalities with French Sign Language, and has even been considered a creole of that language.
Not sure what a creole is? Neither were we! It’s basically a language formed from two other languages, that is in turn passed on to another generation. Whatever it’s technical designation, ASL has certainly opened the doors of communication for many people with various speech impairments that prevent them from using verbal speech. Even more interesting is that ASL has been being taught as a second language in many places in the word, creating a scenario where even where the two involved may not share a spoken language, they’re able to communicate through sign. How amazing is that?
How to celebrate National ASL Day
Many of us know people who, for one reason or another, are unable to use or hear the spoken word, isn’t it time that you open up a whole new area of friends and family by learning ASL? It can open even broader venues as well, with new job opportunities and ways to help your community. National ASL Day is your chance to learn a second language you may never have considered!