When Hurricane Dorian was on the doorstep of the eastern seaboard a couple of months ago, governors took to the airways to warn their constituents of the impending danger. They were not alone, however. In many instances, such as in Florida and Georgia, these warnings were accompanied by an American Sign Language Interpreter. This is common during times of crises and, at times, the interpreter has been known to steal the show.
This is no mere sideshow, however. ASL interpreters, both hearing and deaf, are vital in times of disaster. While technology has advanced to the point where captions can be used on many live broadcasts, sign language may be a deaf or hard-of-hearing person’s first and even only mode of communication. Having an interpreter on hand means that those people have access to the same life-saving information as everyone else.
ASL: The Foundation of a Culture
American Sign Language is a beautiful language, incorporating many elements in its execution, including facial expression, body movement, storytelling, and more. Rather than signing each word (as with Signed Exact English), ASL approaches from a more visual perspective, focusing on the effective presentation of information.
This language is the foundation of a rich culture. To be part of Deaf culture is to be part of a close-knit community, brought together by language and shared experience, and Deaf events are known to be great social gatherings.
Did you know that sign language is not universal? There are different signed languages in different countries and regions, and those cultures influence the formation and execution of those languages. Just as you may not automatically understand Spanish or German, signers of ASL will not automatically be able to understand British Sign Language (BSL) or Lengua de signos española (“Spanish Sign Language” or LSE).
Many deaf people do not consider their lack of hearing to be a problem, particularly when they have access to large Deaf communities such as the one here in our very own Austin, TX. They are no different from anyone else; their ears simply do not work. For many deaf people, hearing loss is no “loss” at all.
While this may mean that hearing loss is not a problem for you, it is always a good idea to get your ears checked, as hearing health is often an indicator of overall health. You can schedule an appointment with us today.
ASL is amazing, and a great way to kick off our “Spreading Good Cheer” series, which you can find on our blog. Even if your ears work perfectly, you can always learn sign language for yourself and your community. The benefits will amaze you.