When you run into a deaf person in the community, do you wish that you both could communicate? Do you think signing is fascinating? As public awareness of deafness grows, there is a corresponding interest in American Sign Language (ASL). ASL is one of the most often-used languages in the United States after English; in fact it is the fourth most studied foreign language, according to USA Today.

American Sign Language courses have rapidly become high-demand nationwide. As written on Texas School for the Deaf website (2015): “American Sign Language, or ASL, is a complex form of manual communication in which hands, limbs, head, facial expression and body language are used to communicate a visual-spatial language without sound. ASL is not related to spoken English, and features an entirely different grammar and vocabulary: linguistically it is a complete, natural and fully realized language in its own right.”

Over the years, more individuals have become interested in learning and utilizing ASL in various fields, such as becoming an interpreter, teaching the deaf, working in special education, working with children with autism, social workers, church ministries, and more. Parents are wanting to introduce sign language to their infant budding communication at an early age.

Universities that offers ASL typically focuses on the basic language structure and cultural integration for basic conversational skills. Be sure to bear in mind that upon completing ASL level 4, students are not quite qualified as a proficient signer at a professional level. Formal education is needed beyond ASL level 4 to provide students with the necessary guidance and skill building to enhance their signing in professional settings.

Learning ASL can help increase your visual spatial awareness and hand-to-eye coordination, as well as enrich your cognition in the process of learning a new language. Consider taking American Sign Language as it also may give you a different perspective on humanity. In the process, you would be making a difference in the lives of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community!

Are you interested in studying ASL? The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor offers exciting degrees through the College of Humanities. We invite you to stop by for a visit, and see if UMHB is a fit for you.