01 January 2006

A is for American Sign Language





I'm going to gratuitiously invite myself to the



ABC along. I'm not officially signed up as of yet, but at this point I still think it's a great idea, so off I go!

American Sign Language is the most important thing in my life, so it's fitting that it's the first thing I'll talk about. It just plain makes me happy. Thus the cute drawing above. I didn't make it, but I think it speaks for itself. ASL is the language of the American deaf community, and is spoken everywhere at Gallaudet University, where I work these days. I'm not going to give you a whole big history of ASL and the deaf community, other people can do that better than I. I would say though that if you were interested in any books about the deaf community, A Journey into the Deaf-World and my favorite, The Mask of Benevolence: Disabling the Deaf Community. The former books is a positive view of the Deaf community from inside out, the latter is from outside in. I admit the latter is a lot more angry, but it's seriously a book that I have handed out to people like candy.

For myself, as much as I love English, love the English language, utilize it every day in my life as I read, write, talk on IM to everybody and their cats, read blogs, read captions on my DVDs, I just cannot live without ASL. I've tried, and let's just say that Deep Depressive Funks are the sort of thing that shouldn't be repeated ever. For me, as someone who has a deep and abiding love for Gustav Mahler and wrote grad papers on his music, sounds are nonsensical and not useful, eexcept for that of music. I can lipread, but it's fraught with, at best, difficultcies, and speaking is the same way. I mean, even Picasso and Kahlo think I'm calling them no matter who I call!

But ASL? With it being the language of the home, home is just that: a sanctuary, a safe place where everyone is understood and can understand. A place where I can be included at the dinner table, and can laugh and groan with everyone else. At my job at Gallaudet University, every single one of my clients uses ASL, and of course I use ASL with all of them. I speak ASL to my coworkers, speak ASL with my boss, and speak ASL with my friend Paws who happens to work just around the corner from me.

I wish ASL was more widely accepted and understood, if only because it's one of those things that's hard for people to understand the importance of. But it's easy to not understand that when you are exposed to English 24/7. When you don't have anyone speaking ASL in the world outside your door, it's different. That's one reason, of course, that I like being online so much, even though it's all in English, because at least you understand me and I understand you. That's the feeling I have when I speak ASL in an environment receptive to it.

1 Comments:

Blogger Chris said...

This was a fabulous post, BTW. :) I have far more exposure to the blind community than to the deaf community - and that's still not very much. I just put both books onto my list at the library.

5:54 PM  

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