I just registered to go back to college for an AA degree in American Sign Language/Interpreting! I have been wanting to take American Sign Language classes since… at least since 5th grade (so about 25 years!) and it never seemed like the right time…
Fast forward many years to when Em was born and we started a DVD course called Signing Time. Signing Time is meant to be basic sign language for babies and toddlers to use while their grasp of spoken language is still undeveloped and often misunderstood—they can communicate simple things like “Eat” “Milk” “Sleep”, etc. and quickly be able to get their point across without the frusturation of a typical baby’s lack of verbal communication skills. Once he was speaking, I noticed a bonus of an added vocabulary not typical in kids the same age as him. At three years old, Em can sign and understand signing of about 600 words. All the different songs and tools they come up with help you to remember these words and also remind you about things such as manners.
Ro now watches Signing Time (yay for public television!), the only thing he is allowed to watch (with mommy of course) and signs about 65 words… slower than Em at the same age but that’s okay with me. He visually understands about the same amount of words as Em, so I can sign rather than yell when they are far away or across a crowded table.
Now, for those of you who don’t know me well, you might wonder why I am choosing to do this—other than just for gaining a new skill.
I have selfish and unselfish reasons.
I myself cannot hear very well at all due to a childhood illness and subsequent surgery. If I watch TV, the closed captioning must be on since I hear only about ½ the words. Hearing aids would not help my type of hearing loss. The easiest way to explain what I hear is this: constant wooshing noise mixed with the sounds around me... like it's always windy. The pressure in my ears is greater than the outside (like going up in an airplane or scuba diving).
I like being able to “talk” with my husband across a crowded room… often just something simple like “Are you ready to go?” or “Do you want a drink?”. He knows those same 600 signs the boys do, so I can do this with him as well as the munchkins.
Even with my hearing, I could still help others if translation is needed. I once feebly helped a family find Santa Claus in the mall when they saw me practicing signs with Ro… it was a slow conversation, but it made me feel good.
I have other friends who also have hearing problems that are similarly taking ASL, so I would have people to talk and practice with.
There are other reasons, but these are some that come to me every time I think about taking the plunge and heading back to the classroom.
What would make you go back to school?