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An Introduction to Sign Language

January 31, 2017

 First, a little background of myself to give credentials and credibility. My name is Brittany Herrmann (formerly Fletcher), I am a CODA, a Child of a Deaf Adult. My mother is profoundly Deaf and has been since she was two years old, thus my entire line of communication with her has solely been through Sign Language. I started signing when I was just one and half years old, before I began fully speaking words actually. Naturally, Sign Language became my first language. I also have a degree in Special Education with endorsements of reading, writing, and teaching Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing individuals, as well as a degree in American Sign Language, all which are from the University of Iowa. I practice as a part-time Interpreter for medical, educational, and community events and I teach at Scott Community College part-time as an ASL professor.

 

A few facts I’d like to state in order to clearly define what Sign Language is and how you can benefit from it:

 

There are three distinct different styles of Sign Language:

1) There is Signing Exact English (SEE), which is to sign our English speaking words in grammatical order, word for word.

2) There's American Sign Language (ASL), which uses signs combined with facial expressions and postures of the body to convey an idea or concept, thus not following grammatically correct English or signing word for word. ASL grasps an idea and “paints the picture”. It is similarly compared to Spanish in that if you were to translate Spanish to English, the sentence would not make complete sense. Typically in Spanish and ASL an object comes first then the descriptive adjective, such as “ball red” instead of “red ball”. That is just a miniscule example, but one that helps understand some differences.

3)Lastly, there is Psuedo Signed English (PSE), which is a mixture of using SEE and ASL. The signer typically follows grammatical English rules while incorporating “painting the picture” using the flow of ASL.

 

All three Sign Languages are prominent in the United States and, much to the misconception, I’d like to refute that Sign Language is not universal; each country has their own sign! This makes it all the more unique and fun to learn. I know some British Sign Language, as well as Kenyan Sign Language. A lot of what you will see with any sign, is that it is intuitive. It truly does paint a picture and you can start to understand why some words are represented with that particular sign based on the formation of hands, facial expressions, and body posture.


Interested in learning more on how Sign Language can be beneficial for you and your family? Stay tuned, another blog post to follow shortly!

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