Radio Inspire

How To Learn Sign Language


Hello ASL Community! Whew, Last week’s question got a good number of you to leave some great comments and questions below the video – I look forward to talking more about that! For now, my name’s Awti; Here’s my name sign and you’re watching That!Vlog… Welcome to That!Vlog, a weekly series where I cover three things: First, I tell you what’s up with me, Awti. Second, we discuss what’s up with the ASL Community – what exactly that means and more. Third, I ask you a question, get some conversation going! Let’s begin with what I’ve been doing. Last week, I had a great time at the NAD conference in Atlanta, GA, meeting tons of great people, mingling and mixing. I also presented my workshop, which about 100 people attended, and I did my performance “ASL Power!” Which had just about a thousand people in the audience. It was a pleasure performing alongside other talented people. It seemed that my message resonated with a lot of people in the audience, that is, the magnification of our great language ASL! If you were in the audience, either for the workshop or performance, please take a brief trip to the comments section below this video, type out your perspective, your feelings – I’d love to hear from you! Coming up this August, guess where I’ll be? That’s right, the Kentucky Deaf Festival! I’l be giving an abbreviated half-hour performance of “ASL Power!” along with many other fantastic ASL performers. I can’t wait and hope to see you there! Let’s talk about the ASL Community. Last week I explained briefly what the “ASL Community” means, of what groups it’s comprised, and asked you, “Why did you decide to become a part of the ASL Community?” You responded by typing up so many great comments and additional questions below the video, which I really enjoy reading. Two great questions that came up: Is this concept of ASL Community just another way for hearing people to colonize the Deaf Community? Valid question! The other is: What if you’re not in the ASL community but another sign language community, elsewhere in the world? How does such ones fit in with this concept? Rather than “ASL Community,” should it be broadened? I’m happy to say I’ve already planned to answer those questions and more in future episodes – I look forward to sharing those with you. Meantime, keep the comments and questions coming, love ’em! Back to last question, “Why did you decide to become a part of the ASL Community?” Here’s my answer: When I use ASL, I feel like I’m busting out super powers – it’s true! Now, you may know this but my entire family is deaf – mother, father and brother, all deaf; I’m the only hearing person in my family. You may think I grew up signing like this but you’d be mistaken! I’ll tell you more about that next week. For now, I’ll just say that I didn’t grow up signing natively – I relied more on speech than signing. I really started picking up ASL when I was 15 and started hanging out with Deaf kids my age. I remember going into a restaurant with them and you know what it’s like in that setting; The loud din of over cranked music and shouted conversations make it almost impossible to think! As we settled into our table, I dreaded even the thought of having to shout out all my conversations and blow out my vocal chords. As I started to sign my conversation, though, it occurred to me; I didn’t have to shout. Whether I was conversing with someone across the table, further away, on the opposite side of the room or even through a window…I could sign with ease. Awesome! One time, a fellow who didn’t know sign language joined us – I wasn’t too thrilled. We went to a restaurant with the same loud atmosphere I just described, sat down and started conversing. During the signed conversation, the non-signing fellow kept trying to talk with me in spoken English. I politely acknowledged him but didn’t engage. He kept trying to talk to me. Eventually, I asked to speak with him outside. When we got outside, I told him, “Look, you’re a great guy but I don’t feel like going hoarse just so you can have someone to talk to.” He expressed his frustration of not being able to join in the conversation and asked me why I wouldn’t speak. I responded, “Dude – if you you could fly…seriously – if you could FLY…would you ever walk again?” Of course not! That’s what this is. Why would I ever bother with speaking? I can SIGN! That was the first time in my life that I felt what I refer to as ASL Power! That’s one of MANY things that made me decide to become a part of the ASL Community. I look forward to sharing more awesome aspects of ASL with you in future episodes. Now for this week’s question. Before you became part of the ASL community, what was your life like? Some of you will be able to answer this question readily; however, others of you may have been in the ASL community your entire life. For those of you that have, here’s an alternate question: When you’re interacting with people outside the ASL Community, people who don’t know sign language, haven’t learned it, what’s that like for you? That’s this week’s question! I look forward to your comments; You can leave your comments either by typing them in the section below or by recording a signed video comment. I’m eager to see your comments and questions; next week, I’ll give you my answer. Oh hey, see this link? If you don’t want to miss an episode of That!Vlog but don’t know how to receive notifications of new episodes, go here to sign up to get e-mails whenever I post a new vlog. And, as always, in the description area below this video, you can find everything – how to subscribe AND MORE – just scroll down there, click on the links and you’re set! My name’s Awti; Here’s my name sign; ASL Power!

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