Time to Learn ASL!

May 8, 2021 3 By Ashley Peterman

Before I begin this post, I welcome any of my readers to partake in the Google Forms poll that I have created about ASL. I am curious to know how common ASL is!

It seems that whenever I go onto social media lately, I see someone posting about learning or teaching people about American Sign Language (ASL). I have also seen various social media posts made by drive-thru workers on the topic of ASL. It is often mentioned by these workers that it is incredibly important to learn ASL to support any customers who are deaf or hard of hearing. While I do not work in a drive-thru setting, nor do I plan to, I see huge benefits in learning ASL. I do not know a single thing about ASL, to the point where I am not even too sure where to even begin this project. However, I am eager to learn and I know I will gain lots of knowledge through various resources!

After my first University degree, I plan to get a certificate in inclusive education. I am crossing my fingers that this extra schooling will score me a job teaching in a special abilities classroom. This became my end goal for my career when I began volunteering with Special Olympics. While volunteering, I noticed that one of the participants was not responding when I would speak.

Side note, I feel like it is a good time to mention that at Special Olympics figure skating, we do not tell other volunteers or coaches about the participants’ disabilities to a certain degree. Rather, we allow the participant or their family to tell us when they feel ready to do so.

As mentioned, I noticed that a participant appeared to not be responding or acknowledging me very much when I would speak. Later on, it was stated by the parents that their child is hard of hearing. With this new knowledge, I figured that learning ASL would benefit the participant. My goal is that when I return to volunteering in October, I will be able to have a conversation with this participant through ASL. Along with using ASL at Special Olympics, I will be able to use it in the classroom when I am teaching. Since I want to teach the younger grades, I might be able to briefly incorporate basic ASL into the classroom which will create more of a welcoming environment for all students. The students could also have the chance to learn basic ASL from me and conversate with their peers using it. I can only imagine how welcoming and inclusive the classroom would become if ASL was included! With all of these benefits clear in my mind, I was able to easily choose ASL as a focus for my learning project.

Now, where do I begin when it comes to learning ASL? I have never learned anything in regards to ASL, nor do I have any family members or close friends who use ASL. To begin, I researched some methods to learn ASL. I feel like a good basic to ASL begins by learning and memorizing the alphabet. After learning the alphabet, I will look at this YouTube channel to learn some basics of sign language. Particularly, this video will be useful in learning some of the basics of ASL. Along with watching YouTube videos, I will also look at various images, social media apps on my phone, and movies/TV shows that incorporate ASL. I feel like an end goal of learning ASL during this class will be having the capacity to have a conversation in sign language. How cool would it be if I was able to have a conversation with others through ASL based on the knowledge gained during this class? I feel like this would be beneficial and so cool to be able to conversate through ASL!

I am so excited to begin learning ASL. Honestly, so excited to the point where I have already begun examining the ASL alphabet to learn. I cannot wait to see how much knowledge that I gain in the next month and a half. I look forward to experiencing this journey and sharing it with my fellow readers!