by Diane Burdick, Ed.S.
I’ve been interested in sign language since as early as I can remember. As a highschooler I was in the sign language club, and the college I attended held free sign language classes every week, where I learned both basic and more advanced sign language words and concepts.
Although I took the classes more than 10 years ago, I still use my sign language skills at church and in my community. If you’re interested in learning sign language, pursue it! You’ll probably be surprised by how many opportunities you’ll find to use this ability once you have it.
Here are three great resources for learning and mastering sign language:
SigningFamilies.com offers lessons (for a small fee), as well as free video tutorials on YouTube. While the material is mostly geared toward children, adults can also benefit. DVD topics include teaching babies, toddlers and preschoolers sign language, as well as teaching sign language for emergency situations. Online classes include ASL (American Sign Language) basics, classes for kids, and adaptive sign language for people with special needs.
American Sign Language University on LifePrint.com teaches basic techniques like letters, common words and fingerspelling, as well as the importance of using body language and facial expressions when communicating with the hard-of-hearing. Bill Vicars, the facilitator of the course, also gives guidance on how to learn ASL even if you don’t interact much with the deaf community.
ASLPro.com offers free information for sign language teachers, and is specifically geared to be a classroom resource. Contents of the site include a main dictionary, a religious dictionary, conversational dictionary, as well as ways to teach ASL to babies.
These resources are a great starting point for learning sign language. I’d also encourage you to check with your local community center or church for class availability. Learning sign language is a lifelong skill you’ll always treasure.