WHY THE ART OF SIGN LANGUAGE IS FOR EVERYONE
This is an article “Why the Art of Sign Language is for Everyone” by Marc Primo Warren
Over the years, quite a number of sign language interpreters have had their 15 minutes of fame on television and the news--a few, for all the wrong reasons. During Nelson Mandela’s memorial in 2017, a man was accused by the Deaf Federation of South Africa for simply making gibberish hand gestures that miserably failed to communicate anything to hard of hearing audiences who were tuned in. Meanwhile at home, Derlyn Roberts did hand motions that made her look like she was having a seizure during a Tampa Bay, Florida, press conference. She was quickly spotted as a fake interpreter and though she largely got away with it with just a slap on the hand ethical violation, there is no doubt that sign language is as serious as any other language when used to communicate important information.
As many would agree, sign language is indeed more artistic than the simple and usual spoken word type of communication. It requires both creativity to effectively convey emotion, as well as intelligence to process which gestures exactly connote the context of the statements being delivered. With 10 million in the country being hard of hearing and a million being functionally deaf in 2020, sign language has risen to be the 4th most widely used language behind English, Spanish, and Chinese across the country.
Here are more reasons why you should consider learning sign language and adding it to your resume as a useful skill set.
It opens up a unique new world
Don’t think that learning sign language doesn’t have its benefits even if it is considered to be one of the easiest languages to learn (if that isn’t already a benefit in itself). Learning to sign can boost your cognitive skills and help you improve creative thinking by immersing you in another cultural experience whenever you get the chance to interact with the deaf community. You learn how to make things fun when it comes to expressing yourself, plus-- when you want to rant or vent without blurting out any expletive from your lips, sign language is one good alternative for release.
It improves your motor skills
Sign language also improves your hand and eye coordination especially when you try out lip reading while translating a speaker’s speech in real time. It also sharpens your reflexes in terms of facial expressions and grammatical consistencies.
You see, the language is not limited to the use of your hands. It also requires movement from your arms, your eyes, eyebrows, and your mouth to convey certain messages effectively. Try watching interpreters on TV with the volume down and see how they deliver the questions or concluding statements. You’ll begin to appreciate how artistic the language truly is once you understand how it really works and what’s actually being said.
It helps children with autism
Sign language is also considered to be a good tool when communicating with people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who find it quite difficult to communicate verbally. In fact, many children who suffer from the condition show higher preference for the language than any other spoken form. Some of them consider it as a primary way to engage in dialogue although everyone is different and even a few may still prefer either auditory or visual manners of communication.
Nevertheless sign language is effective to most ASD patients because of how hands stay within a certain height level visually, making it easier to follow, process and remember. The language also contributes in lowering the children’s stress levels and helps them convey what they want to their parents or caregivers without too much difficulty. Once children with autism learn sign language, they are more able to openly communicate what they need more effectively, lessening instances of agitation or tantrums.