When looking at global communication, you can see significant changes, a huge record of evolution, and endless history of languages.
Furthermore, when visiting a foreign country, you might wonder if languages really facilitate communication between human beings or create cultural barriers. What do you think? Having millions of people speaking a different language and using different alphabets on a single planet seems like a big deal.
Now, imagine that hundreds of thousands don’t have the same communication skills as you. It sounds more complicated, right? Well, that’s the world’s reality!
There are many active languages, but there is only one that can really help people communicate with others by breaking down communication barriers: sign language.
It Is Not Universal but Can Be Used by Everyone
Every country uses a different sign language. There are many variations of sign languages because, like spoken languages, they evolved naturally through interaction between various groups of people. Between 138 and 300 different sign languages are currently in use all over the world.
Some of the world’s sign language alphabets include:
- American Sign Language (ASL)
- British, Australian and New Zealand Sign Language (BANZSL)
- Chinese Sign Language (CSL)
- French Sign Language (LSF)
- Japanese Sign Language (JSL) Syllabary
- Arabic sign language
- Spanish Sign Language (LSE)
- Mexican Sign Language (LSM)
- Ukrainian Sign Language (USL)
- Plains Sign Talk or Plains Sign Language (Native American)
They each have their own structure and enable people to use their hands differently to represent individual letters of a written alphabet (manual spelling) or words and phrases for more fluid communication.
Despite this, most countries that share the same spoken language do not have the same sign language. Various countries that use English and Spanish, for example, have different varieties.
Spanish has the varieties of Spain and Mexico or Latin America. People living in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States speak English, but all three countries have distinct American Sign Language varieties.
Despite these differences and contrary to common belief, anyone can learn and use sign language.
Isn’t It Just for the Deaf and Hard-of-hearing Community?
Many people believe that sign language is only used by the hearing-impaired or deaf community. However, sign language can be useful and beneficial for everyone.
All groups of people can benefit from sign language, including those with disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, apraxia of speech, and Down syndrome.
Sign language has been used throughout history for communication purposes. Years have passed, and it is still equally beneficial for those who want to express their thoughts, feelings, and opinions to others.
It cannot be ignored that the main use of sign language has to do with deaf people. Actually, it is a very important communication tool for those who are hard of hearing.
However, sign language is not limited to a specific community. It can provide full communication access to others, including those who can hear but not speak.
Moreover, this beautiful type of language poses other communicational benefits, such as:
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Sign Language Is More Expressive
Sign language is not just about moving your hands. It involves body movements and facial expressions as well.
Apart from signs as such, facial expressions are the most important elements of sign language, as they can express emotions while sharing grammatical information.
A raised eyebrow can change the meaning of what you are trying to say when using sign language, for example! Therefore, people may rely on facial expressions to better convey their messages.
Benefits People with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Developing verbal communication might be difficult for some kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Therefore, learning sign language can be the right communication technique for them and their families. When employing sign language instead of or in addition to a spoken language, many children with ASD have shown improved quality communication.
Can Be Learned Just like Spoken Languages
A child learns sign language in the same ways as they learn spoken language. Since a baby’s hand muscles grow and develop more quickly than those in their mouth, signing can be a preferable alternative for early communication, especially if the infant is still unable to speak.
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Breaks All Spoken Language Barriers
When speaking out loud is physically impossible, such as when doing so underwater, watching a movie in theatres, or at a loud concert, sign language can be used instead. Another way to communicate without disturbing people is through sign language.
Final thoughts: Should it be considered an international language?
Even the International Sign (IS) is not considered a full language. However, sign language could be the ultimate communication channel for all individuals around the world, especially when there are speaking communication boundaries.
While it is mostly used by the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, sign language has a lot to offer to all groups of people! If you’re interested in sign language interpreting services, NIR can help as they provide interpreters across the entire US!