Monday, June 27, 2011

Do you sign?

I don't remember learning sign language, but I also don't remember a time when I didn't know how to sign. I was mainstreamed starting in preschool and was around other deaf and hard of hearing children all through elementary school. I had interpreters in my classroom and spent time with Deaf Education teachers. Even my hearing friends learned to sign and we would "talk" during class... unfortunately, the teachers knew some sign language, too so we rarely got off scot-free! ;)

I never liked to sign at home, though, and I wish I could tell you why that is, but I haven't got a clue. I was fine with it at school but insecure signing at home. Maybe because at school, I was one of several deaf/hard of hearing students but at home, I was the only one with hearing loss. Was signing at home an uncomfortable reminder that I was "different"? 

My parents and brothers do know a little bit - in typical BOY fashion, my brothers delight in signing "turtle" and "poop" over and over and over again. Eye. Roll. They all know how to sign the alphabet and that comes in handy when I just can't understand something they've repeated several times. Sometimes just signing the first letter of the word they're trying to say makes something click and I'll figure out that, doh, they were saying "mother" and not "brother."

But for the most part, I don't sign with my family or hearing friends, just with my deaf and hard of hearing friends. When I was growing up, my interpreters used CASE with me - Conceptually Accurate Signed English (others may know it as PSE), which uses ASL (American Sign Language) vocabulary but English word order and grammar. Many people don't know that ASL is actually considered a foreign language with its own grammar and syntax. I can understand ASL but I wouldn't say that I'm fluent in signing it myself. After a few years of being out of touch with the deaf and hard of hearing community, my signing grew rusty. Now, though, I feel like I'm getting my fingers back, though I'm not quite sure what brand of sign language I'd say I use. It feels more like a cross between CASE and SEE (Signing Exact English), which I lovingly refer to as LSL - Lucy Sign Language. ;) I'm thankful that my deaf and hard of hearing friends are patient with me as I re-learn everything!

Sometimes I wonder if I should be encouraging my hearing friends and family to learn a few more signs. What if my hearing loss progresses? How will we communicate? And not that I'm ancient by any means, but the older I get, I'm finding that I have less patience to keep up with groups of hearing people... maybe if I taught my close friends and family to be more fluent, our conversations would flow a little more smoothly. Plus, I watch a lot of small children and just welcomed a sweet little nephew into the world over the weekend. Children are hard for me to understand and I'd like to find a fun and easy way to teach them to sign so we can still communicate and enjoy each other.

How about you? Is sign language a part of your life? 


  1. I didn't lose my hearing until I was 25 years old. However, I had learned ASL because of culturally Deaf friends that I have.

    I do not use sign much outside the home. My family all know quite a bit of sign, one fluent enough she could be an interpreter if she wanted (but she does not). However, outside the home I do not use sign as the late-deafened people I know, and the HoHearies do not use ASL (or any form of sign). The few culturally Deaf that I run into from time to time treat me pretty badly since I chose a CI instead of "staying Deaf". So I suppose I'm opposite you in that I use more sign IN the home and rarely use it OUT.

  2. Hi Denise! The more I talk to other people, the more I'm finding that I'm the odd one out. People seem to prefer that their family sign, while I've always been reluctant to teach them.

    I don't have a CI but I speak for myself and on the outside, I seem to function more like a hearing person. So I'm in the same boat as you!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  3. i am not deaf but i actually really do want to become a interpreter because i think its fun and maybe one day ill be able to help people like you .(;