Sign Language

In the world of a deaf person, sign language is typically the only way they have of conversing with the world around them. Although many deaf people do learn to speak, they still cannot hear the answers to their questions, laugh at a joke, or hold a conversation unless someone knows signing or is around to interpret for them.

American Sign Language, along with its many cousins in other parts of the world, plays a large part in helping the deaf lead normal lives in a 'hearing' environment. The simple act of learning the sign language alphabet can mean the difference between confusion and understanding.

Just as important as learning the ABC's of signing, other hand symbols play a role in deciphering a word or a phrases meaning. Some words cannot be understood unless they go beyond spelling them out.

Many people in the hearing world take facial expression and body language for granted. We all know that shrugging our shoulders means, I don't know. Just as we all know that if someone has their arms folded across their chests and are staring, they are probably upset.

To a deaf person, body language and facial expressions means the difference of understanding simple remarks. The deaf rely on these two concepts to grasp the meanings of what people are trying to say.

They cannot hear the words, nor can they hear the tone of voice that hearing people rely on. Only by the expression on someone's face, can a deaf person tell if a person is serious or possibly making a joke.

The best thing you can do when you are trying to communicate with the deaf is to make sure you are addressing them face on, adding expression and proper body language to your conversation. This will make the conversation flow and avoid any wrong interruptions by either party.


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