Sign language is not universal. Different Countries or regions have their own form. Even in America one will notice a difference in sign language between Northern and Southern signers. People from the South tend to be a bit slower in their movements. In addition, a person may notice a variation in the style.
American Sign Language (ASL) is used predominantly by the Deaf and hard-of-hearing of the United States and Canada. Interpreters as well as friends and family of the deaf use sign. Furthermore, hearing parents choose to teach their infants ASL in order to decrease frustrations of communication before the baby is able to speak.
However, sign language is not just for deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Another large number of sign language users is hearing deaf or nonverbal people. They may be nonverbal because of conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy, down syndrome or speech disorders. Sign language provides a means of quick communication, especially for those whose attention spans may be short or have limited a vocabulary.
ASL is a complete, complex language. Sign language continues to change and grow just like any language. For example, because of technology advancements new signs are being continuously added in order to keep up with the changes.
In spoken dialects, various sounds and voice tones are used to create words. For a hearing impaired person, sight is how they communicate and receive information.
Sign language uses hand shape, position and movements to make words. In addition, body movements, facial expressions, gestures, posture and other visual cues are used to communicate. Included in these movements are raising or lowering of the eyebrows, widening the eyes and tilting the body forward. These actions help give meaning to what is being signed, much like vocal tones give meaning to spoken words.
There are many career opportunities for people who know sign language. In the education field, there is always a need for teachers at deaf schools and special education teachers. Federal, state and local government agencies offer opportunities to people with these skills. Furthermore, careers regarding medical, travel and social services are in high demand for people who are proficient in ASL. Basically, any industry has opportunities for folks who know where to look.
Research has discovered a positive impact on the socialization of hearing children who are exposed to sign language. Parents who teach infants sign language are able to converse with them at a stage when they are not yet capable of talking. When a child is able to actively communicate earlier than normal it appears to accelerate language development. However, young children may use the correct location and hand motion, but may only resemble the hand shape since they do not have the dexterity required for true ASL.
Watching anyone communicate using sign language movements, you will realize it is beautiful and elegant. The way they are able to move their hands, arms and body can be mesmerizing. Therefore, take the opportunity and become proficient in this wonderful language.