This Month I Want To Learn Sign Language

There are so many different versions of sign language around the world. A short list of some of them includes:

American Sign Language (ASL)

Auslan (Australian Sign Language)

British Sign Language (BSL)

Chinese Sign Language (CSL or ZGS)

French Sign Language (LSF)

Irish Sign Language (ISL)

Russian Sign Language (RSL)

Since ASL is the one used in North America, that is the one I want to learn. Fun fact; it is also use in West Africa and Southeast Asia.

I always wanted to learn it when I was younger. Something about it always seemed fascinating to me. But I never really had motivation to learn it because I didn’t know anybody else who knew them. When I was learning French and Spanish I had people in my life who were fluent and could help me practice.

But I also couldn’t find resources that worked well for me. They would either teach me words I had no use for, or it would just say “here’s the alphabet, good luck.” As much as that would work for me in other situations I didn’t have a way to practice with feedback to know if I was doing things correctly.

There are classes available at the local Community College but for some reason when I looked into them, they were during the daytime. That didn’t work for me because as I like to tell people when they invite me to things on weekdays, I work for a living.

When I started my current job I had a renewed interest in learning again. I don’t remember if I’ve written anything about her before but I now work with a woman who is deaf.

At first I didn’t interact with her very much. She was in the front of the building and I was in the back. But then when I started taking over tool calibrations and repair I’d need to work with her more and more. Now that I’m in charge of everything tooling related I have to interact with her at least once a week.

For a while I would keep a piece of paper and a pencil at the ready to help us, or set the font really big on WordPad and type to her. But I didn’t always have them with me if I didn’t realize I’ve need to talk to her.

This past fall I found a way to get feedback to be able to learn better. I don’t remember how exactly it started but one of my students got me into doing rehearsal letters using sign language.

It was really helpful and I wish I had been doing it for years. I’ve got signs I use with drumlines so I can give them instructions while they are playing without having to yell but I had never thought of using actual signs before.  It’s so much easier to sign a rehearsal letter while I give the instructions so people don’t mishear me.

That got me used to signing A through W and then I just needed to work on the last few myself. The only problem was once the season ended I stopped practicing.

But then a couple of months ago I printed out a copy of the alphabet to keep at my desk so I can try signing when I remember to. Now that I am actually attempting to sign at work it’s starting to get a little easier.

I wish I had some resources to share with everyone but I couldn’t find any good ones myself. If anyone has any they can feel free to share in the comments. Hopefully we can find something that works well.

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