The pandemic has massively changed the landscape of our society. Education has also been greatly impacted. Less than two years ago, learners could freely go to school and communicate directly with their peers and instructors -not only verbally but also through their gestures and facial expressions. Lately, the kids have no choice but to learn remotely and rely on the messages transmitted on the small video conference boxes.
What makes the whole process of learning online difficult is that the transition is more challenging for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. During the onset of online teaching in 2020, teachers had to use audio files and video materials as part of their teaching strategy online but this has left students feeling frustrated, unmotivated, and stuck on their lessons. The reason behind this is that not all students are able to pick up the required pieces of information when instructors use this strategy, it makes the whole concept overwhelming.
Now with the start of a whole new school year, there are three great reasons why learning the American Sign Language (ASL) can significantly help you and/or your kid navigate the changing field of education.
1) Prevents Communication Breakdown
This fall, due to Covid restriction, many school environments will require that much of the face be covered with masks. This will no doubt cause communication problems, and those who rely on facial expressions, sounds, and lip-reading will be at a big disadvantage. For the Deaf and Hard of Hearing or those with speech challenges some of the parts of the speech are emphasized through mouth movement which means that masks will obstruct how meaning is transmitted and understood.
If you want to be able to express yourself better and be clearly understood by everyone in school, it would be wise to learn at least the basics of ASL. Since ASL is not just about simple gestures, it gives one a chance to develop a total physical response which can then support memory and attention.
2) Boosts Communication Skills
Whenever we think about what language to learn, what usually comes to mind are the foreign language ones commonly taught at schools like Spanish, Chinese, Russian, or Japanese. However, if you are looking for a unique modern language that has great appeal then ASL is what you should consider. It is not only incredibly useful, but it is also fun!
Developing skills in ASL as early as you can give a competitive edge that can be used for future schooling and/or careers. The ability to sign can help in communicating and providing assistance to others in all kinds of situations. In addition to that, it also paves the way to develop an awareness of the Deaf culture and other disabilities- and may help to become more conscious of the benefits of using body language to reinforce the meaning of what is being said.
3) Improves Reading Skills
By learning the basics of ASL, reading and spelling skills will significantly improve. Fingerspelling, also known as dactylology, refers to the act of signing the alphabet since each letter will have its distinct handshape which is very useful when you are speaking about proper nouns. Based on research, signing the alphabet can facilitate the growth of the English vocabulary and can positively affect the retention of learned words and sounds, and improve overall reading competency. That is a win-win!
These are just three reasons why learning ASL this fall is a very smart strategy. If you are still stuck on the rut, here are some more reasons: you will be more expressive, have an improved cognitive function, gain friends, and learn to be more emphatic. Still not convinced? You can also have secret conversations in public. Cool right?! So, what are you waiting for? Get a leg up this fall and learn ASL today through ASL apps, watching YouTube videos, hiring a tutor, or signing up for an ASL class. You will be glad you did!