Today is National ASL Day, a day where we honor and celebrate American Sign Language. According to aslday.org, the first school for sign language opened in the US on April 15, 1817. It was a mixture of many different types of signing, including Native American, French, and Martha Vineyard’s, the mixture came together to form what we know as Modern Day Sign Language. The school opened in Hartford, Connecticut, after Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, a hearing minister and Yale graduate, became friends with Alice, a deaf girl, and began teaching her words. Alice’s father encouraged Gallaudet to establish a school for the deaf.
It should come as no surprise that American Sign Language is not the only sign language in existence. According to deafwebsites.com, “all over the world different sign languages developed, including in England BSL, and Australia Auslan”. The websites goes on to discuss how there are differences in each type, so for example one who signed with ASL would likely not understand signing from BSL. I guess this is similar to different accents with the spoken word.
Here is a short video of the ABC’s using ASL if you are wanting to take the time and learn today. If you know someone who is hearing impaired, and you don’t sign, perhaps you could surprise them with a word or two.