Our hands play a critical role in everyday living and communication, but no more so than with the deaf and hearing impaired. Consider how much they depend on their hands for communication!
In the United States many people who are deaf or hearing impaired communicate by using American Sign Language, also known as ASL. American Sign Language creates words and sentences by combining signs, facial expressions and gestures.
As we celebrate Deaf History Month now through April 15th, we thought it’d be fun to learn more about this fascinating language with these 15 interesting facts about sign language!
- There are different sign languages in different countries. Sign language over time has developed naturally out of groups of people interacting with each other, just like with the spoken language. In fact, in North and South America alone there are over 35 different sign languages!
- After English and Spanish, American Sign Language is the third most used language in the United States.
- American Sign Language has been used in the United States for over two hundred years!
- The alphabet is signed using one hand in ASL while British and German Sign Language uses two hands.
- The sign for “I love you” combines the signs for the letters I, L and Y.
- As many as 500,000 people in the United States communicate using ASL.
- Babies can communicate using sign language 6-8 months prior to communicating verbally.
- The direction the palm is facing can change the meaning of the word entirely. For instance, the difference between the signs for “good” and “bad” depends on the palm orientation.
- Deaf History Month is observed from March 13th to April 15th every year.
- Sign languages have their own grammar and syntax.
- Not all deaf people use sign language.
- One sign in sign language can have multiple meanings
- American sign language is considered a foreign language
- Facial expressions define whether or not you’re making a statement or asking a question. For example, raising your eyebrows may indicate you’re asking a yes or no question while furrowing them means you’re asking a who, what, where, when, why question.
- Apes can learn sign language and are able to communicate with humans.
Our hands do so much for us—from communication to cooking, we use them every single day. Desert Hand Therapy offers a helping hand if you have any conditions affecting the hand, an injury or disease.