OT: Help With Sign Language

Several years ago my children and I studied Exact English and ASL so we could communiate with a young girl in a church that we often visited. Other than her mother, aunt, and sister, no one (including her father and other family members or church members) took the time to learn even the basics so they could communiate with her.

Her age was between that of my two children. Since our family sang together, we wanted her to be able to read the signs as we sang. The first time we sang just for her she was so overwhelmed that we (people whom she knew only by face) would take the time to learn her language just so we could talk to her.

She and my children became good friends and they stayed in contact off and on for several years. Several moves and states later though they no longer keep in touch.

Now, almost twenty years later I find myself with the desire to refresh my memory of the signs I learned.

There is a young woman that works at a nearby grocery store. When I first noticed that she was deaf, I used a simple greeting and thanked her after she rang up my purchase. I’m not often there when she is, but when I am she always wants me to use her checkout. I’m guessing that she has little conversation at work with the other employees.

I want to be able to better talk with her. I thought there might a few people that use this site which are deaf that could give me solid advise on how to best communicate with her. Any do’s or dont’s. I’d appreciate any help you have to offer.

She might be able to read lips. That’s probably how she manages at work most of the time. Can’t hurt to ask her.

My sister works at a state run daycare facility where all the teachers and aides there know how to sign basic things so they can converse with all the kids. They start the signing with the tiniest babies. Sometimes, the kids who can’t speak yet will use the signs with their parents at home. The parents have no idea what the kids are doing until they come in and speak to the aides, who then tell them that, Little Johnny was asking for “more”, or saying he’s “sleepy”, or “hungry”. Pretty cool.

It’s amazing how bright babies actually are and that they can learn the signs before they can learn speech.

You have to be careful doing things like this though. You have to make sure that you are coupling the words with the signs and that when the child is asking for something and should be able to talk that you aren’t rewarding just the sign. You can delay the verbal development of a speaking child by accepting it when they only use signs.

There are a few sites that could help you refreshing your ASL memory, though there are too many to list here. If memory serves, most are paying though, but you might be able to find some sites with some kind of online dictionary. I found a dictionary for LSFB (belgian french sign language), quite useful.

Just google it up. And good luck

I did do a google search and found a lot of help. There was also a free download of a dictionary. I was thinking that an actual deaf or mute person might be able to give me help that I wouldn’t find in an online tutorial.

Thanks everyone though for your input.

I hope you can achieve what you have aimed at, finding what you sought after.
Deaf people can always assist in some way that no other can, as with every other language.

Most people in the United States who are part of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing culture use ASL or American Sign Language. Signed English is used infrequently. ASL is VERY different in syntax than Signed English, as signed English is how “we” speak and uses signs accordingly. ASL uses concepts rather than structured sentences, and also includes a lot of facial expression. Many of the signs use one sign for a concept rather than a specific word. Check with your state’s school for the deaf or an advocacy group for the deaf/hard of hearing near you.

My DD is deaf and developmentally disabled. We have a new SLP and are trying sign again. We have been using this site http://www.aslpro.com/ I think its great you want to refresh your skills. People do appreciate you trying.

I understand the differences between the two. ASL is harder because of the structure. Also, the class was taught by deaf or HOH people. We moved before we were able to finish the course, but we learned a lot while there.

But as the old addage goes; use it or lose it. I have lost a lot of what I learned.

I’m not deaf or an expert at ASL, signing or finger spelling. I tried learning for couple of customers and then lost the job before using it so I only have a few signs stuck in my head (ones that make sense and tend to be related to my job).

Judging from those customer’s arguments “Slow down” is a good sign to know.

Do’s and don’t’s I’ve picked up are don’t worry about do’s or don’t’s. (Well, I guess one don’t is don’t sign with your hands full :slight_smile: )

Deaf people know you will probably sign like you talk and should be able to understand however you manage and should appreciate the attempt no matter how bad it is.

Our entire family recently began taking sign language courses together. We’ve been informed that my oldest, a daughter -28 yrs old, is gradually losing her hearing. She will eventually become completely deaf. Learning sign language and more about deaf culture has been a highlight in our family’s life. (Surprised by this silver lining? So were we! But deaf people ROCK! and they are worth getting to know!)

In any case, I say all of the above only to agree with the other mother of a deaf daughter. We use ASl Pro at the website she gave, in addition to our course materials. Remember too that most community colleges offer an inexpensive course. You might also find community courses through various United Way agencies (our local United Way agency provided our family course at a nominal fee.)

I used to sign a fair amount, but I do not know anyone who is deaf that actually uses ASL anymore! One of my friends is deaf, but she uses a very abbreviated version, that you just use certain words, I’m not really sure how it works. I love sign language, but I can’t get any better if I have no practice, and I don’t know anyone that knows it either!

ASL is like formal speech. It has proper grammer and snyntax, etc. Like any other language, the formal version is rarely used. It’s important to know, but, in casual conversation, it’s unlikely to be used.

Depending upon whether the person was deafened before or after the language center of the brain was developed, he or she may be more inclined to use Signed Exact English (SEE). In other words, they may sign each word exactly as it would be spoken. If the person was born deaf, they do not think in words. They think in entire concepts. And they would be more likely to sign with the grammer of ASL. (introduce the larger concept, then modify it, from the general to the specific.)

If you are fortunate enough to become friendly with several deaf persons, you’ll notice that they also have regional (based on location) and personal differences in how they sign certain words or concepts. Like any true language, sign evolves and adapts. It’s flexible. So, you just have to be flexible along with it. You can fingerspell any word you don’t know a sign for, and a deaf friend will likely show you the most common version of that sign/word.

I hope that by saying all of this, I have helped to motivate others to study the language and culture - I have fallen in love with it! My daughter and I will be starting “sign 3” in May.

I used to be in a church ministry with people that used various forms of hand signs. The one thing that I learned was to always speak, even if no voice came out, with my signs. That was referred to as ‘total communication’. The younger people used ASL, but some others used almost more like body language signs. Just you lips and signs for best communication.

Thanks everyone for your helpful suggestions. I haven’t been able to get back to the store where the young woman works but I’ll keep reviewing my signs. Hopefully the next time I see her I can say more than, “Hello, how are you? Thank you and have a good day.”

Hi! :waving:

For nearly 5 years I worked as a graphic designer with a printing broker who had been mostly deaf since birth. His parents saw that he learned lip reading very thoroughly and when he was a bit older and his friends would call him at home, his Mom would get on an extension phone, push the mute button and repeat what his friend was saying. He would read her lips and then answer into the phone to his caller directly.

Because of this he gained a lot of expertise at lip reading and speaking as well. And went all through regular school, including college.

Shortly after I started working with him I picked up the method of repeating what the caller was saying but doing it immediately, only a word or two behind the speaker on the other end of the phone. I didn’t wait until the whole thought was out, just started repeating. It was a little tricky at first but we really started to fly and he found himself answering the caller’s comments in real time with no delay. We became such a good team, in fact, that most callers to the business had no idea he was deaf, they just thought he had a very slight speech impediment.

I remember asking him early on if he thought it would be helpful if I learned to sign and he just laughed and said no, it wouldn’t help him because he didn’t know sign language! :slight_smile:

I commend you for your intention to brush up your sign language and would encourage you to do so. But also keep in mind that in the real world, day to day, lip reading and good speech control will greatly benefit the hearing impaired. Encourage this whenever you can. And God bless you for your kind heart!

Ruthie :muah:

You may also want to just always remember to bring a notepad and pen(cil) with you…then, if she doesn’t read lips, you’ll still be able “talk” to her.

Good luck on your quest…I’m sure she’ll appreciate any effort:hug:

I agree with Sgt Pam, pen and paper are helpful when communicating with the deaf (they often carry those themselves.)

Other things to remember: Not all deaf friends are given access to ASL - some have never had the chance to learn. Not all deaf people read lips, either. And even the best lip reader in the world only grabs about 40% of the words, the rest they fill in contextually or ask for you to repeat. Those born deaf may also not be literate beyond a 3rd or 4th grade level (if you’ve never heard a word, and do not think in words, words are a difficult concept to grasp.) However, this does not diminish intelligence. You’re likely to see great ingenuity and creativity in a deaf person. They only want to be respected like the rest of us. Treat a deaf person as a “complete” person. They sure don’t consider themselves “broken” or “handicapped” in any way!! :smiley: (personal experience with our deaf friends has taught me this!)

Last but not least, ENJOY each person, as they are, that you are blessed to have in your life!