I love talking with other people. Sharing stories and asking questions. I feel that communication is a huge part of my life. Because I can hear, I am able to communicate orally. For individuals who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing, communicating orally is often not an option. I want to be able to communicate with those who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing, as I feel this would be an amazing experience.
For my In-depth project this year, I am going to learn American Sign Language. My goal is to be able to effectively communicate with a person who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing by the end of the project. I will use recourses such as YouTube videos, websites and apps to practice fingerspelling, signing, as well as rapidly recognizing the signs I have learned. I must learn ASL grammar, which is very different from English grammar, as well as having to learn a variety of signs. By the end of In-depth this year, I will try to be able to quickly recognize signs, be able to finger spell and sign without hesitations, and know the basics of ASL so that I can communicate with others who are not able to communicate orally.
To learn ASL, I first emailed a woman who is a Registered Sign Language Interpreter, asking her if she would want to be my mentor. Over email, she told me that the Deaf community has an important culture that goes along with the language. She said that as she can hear, and as ASL is not her first language, it would not be appropriate for her to teach me ASL. Although she would not teach me, she said she would help me contact a person who is Deaf who would be willing to teach me. She also offered to attend our meetings and interpret until I no longer need an interpreter to communicate with the person who is Deaf. We are still emailing to figure out scheduling, but I will attempt to meet with her in the next two weeks to start learning.
As well as learning from my mentor, I am going to try to meet with others who are Deaf. This will be a good way for me to see where my learning is at, as I will be able to see how well I can communicate with each Deaf person.
I have not yet figured out where my mentor and I will meet, although we will probably want to meet somewhere quiet and calm because it will most likely be easiest to learn in a peaceful place.
There are three large components of my In-depth project this year: learning ASL grammar, learning a variety of signs, and learning to speedily recognize signs and fingerspelling. I will learn the basic ASL grammar by April 27, although I will start learning it immediately. Grammar is the foundation for being able to understand and be understood in ASL, so I will need to learn ASL grammar quickly. I will work on learning signs throughout the project. I will learn numbers and fingerspelling by January 20. After that, I will start learning more complex signs discussing family, time, animals, places, and much more. I will practice recognizing signs quickly as I learn them. By May 25, I hope to be able to rapidly recognize all the signs I have learned, be able to sign a variety of common signs, and be able to understand and use ASL grammar.
There are a variety of ways I hope to reach my goals. Here are a few of the recourses I have already found that will help me learn and recognize ASL:
“100 basic signs”
This YouTube video shows some basic signs that cover family, places, time, temperature, food, clothing, health, emotions, questions, quantities, colours, money, and animal signs.
“Beginner ASL Lesson”
This YouTube channel contains many different basic ASL lessons teaching simple vocabulary that is commonly used in conversations.
“An intro to ASL Grammar Rules”
This website explains some of the basic grammar rules for ASL. There is also a video to help you understand how grammar in ASL works.
How to Structure Sentences in American Sign Language
This website talks about how to structure your sentences in ASL.
ASL Sign Language Dictionary
On this website, you can look up a variety of words and phrases, and the website will automatically bring up different videos that will teach you how to say the word or phrase you looked up in ASL.
I will use these YouTube videos and websites to learn signs and practice recognizing them. I will also practice having conversations with my mentor. I will also try to meet with other Deaf and Hard of Hearing people to practice having conversations, as well as see what I need to improve on to be able to fully communicate with someone in ASL.