I have been taking American Sign Language (ASL) for many years now. My third grade teacher used to be an interpreter for the deaf so as part of her class, she taught us some of the signs. After that, I mostly just remembered the alphabet with the exception of a few signs.
During my sophomore year of high school, I had the opportunity to take ASL as a language credit. Throughout high school I almost made it through the third level, I stopped after the first semester. I'll have to be honest with you though, my thoughts toward ASL were not always pleasant. I could not wait until I was done with the classes so I would never have to take another again.
However, as luck would have it, that hope was not in store for me. When my mom was helping me sign up for classes for Fall semester of college, she told me that if I took a couple classes of ASL, I could get out of taking math. I was in a dilemma. I did not want to take any more ASL, but math was definitely my least favorite subject. I grudgingly chose ASL. I would rather endure a couple more classes of ASL then suffer through a math class.
Now in college, I have received credit for the first two classes of ASL and I am currently in the third class. Actually, I have been enjoying the class. Even though it is not my favorite and I don't particularly like going Monday-Thursday, it can be a lot of fun!
Contrary to what some people may think, ASL is really difficult. It is as challenging as any other language. Its structure is different than English. It is not English sign language, meaning it is not word for word. Words are left our and it is all turned around. ASL has so many different signs and several of the signs are similar. Facial expressions are so important! If you are shy or don't like using any expression, then ASL is not for you. One time I was watching something on TV with my family that was being interpreted into ASL. My family was laughing at their facial expressions. Granted, the interpreters did look pretty silly, but I was so used to it that I didn't really think anything of it. That is just a part of ASL.
As a part of some of my classes, there is a section devoted to the learning of the deaf culture and deaf history. The deaf community have endured a great deal of struggles through the years. They do not think of themselves as disabled or broken, but as a community and a culture. I am not going to state my opinion, but I would like you to watch this video to see what you think. Are the deaf their own culture or are they disabled? This video is a summary of the trials, accomplishments, and the wish of the deaf community. Enjoy!