Is ASL used throughout the United States? Is it only spoken by those who are Deaf and hard of hearing? Believe it or not, ASL is widely used by several people in many areas throughout the U.S.
There are approximately 500,000 deaf people in the U.S. Yet, these are not the only people who use American Sign Language. Besides the Deaf communities throughout, there are also hard of hearing individuals who are fluent in ASL.
Another group of people that use ASL almost on a daily basis are interpreters for the Deaf and hard of hearing. Not only do they use ASL during working hours, but they sometimes also use it in their own homes or amongst their coworkers as well. A requirement for ASL interpreters in fact is to maintain professional – native fluency.
Yet another group of people that speak ASL and use it on a daily basis are Deaf educators. These are teachers of the Deaf and hard of hearing communities that also must be fluent whether they themselves are Deaf or not. Included amongst educators that use ASL daily include the many teachers who teach ASL in the school systems to those who are interested in learning it as a foreign language.
We also can’t fail to mention those who work as advocates or in other Deaf support roles. These folks also engage constantly with the Deaf community. In their work and daily lives, they undoubtedly use ASL as well!
Another growing group of people who are using ASL are parents. Whether their children are deaf or not, many parents teach their children American Sign Language starting in infancy. This is meant to better help them express things they may want or how they feel before they are able to verbally communicate.
Another group of people that may use ASL as well are those that are non-verbal. For instance, children with delayed speech perhaps because of a disability like Down-syndrome or Autism benefit greatly by using ASL as a means of communication to express their wants or needs. That adds to the mix their teachers, therapists, and parents who may also be using the language to better assist.
For Use in the Workplace
People throughout the U.S. may also learn to use ASL for various reasons. For example, someone may have a Deaf co-worker or employee at their place of employment, and they wish to communicate with them so they make it a goal to learn ASL.
Similarly, people will learn ASL because they may often encounter several Deaf people at work like clients, customers, and patients. In the medical field, for example, nurses and doctors see many patients daily, some of which can be Deaf. For that reason, many wish to learn at least some signs to be able to communicate even in a basic way.
People who are first responders, such as law enforcement, firefighters, and paramedics, may also learn a few signs to be able to communicate small simple things to any Deaf individual they may encounter.
Family of Deaf or Hard of Hearing People
Certain people may have a Deaf family member like a niece or a grandson and they too would like to communicate with them. Therefore, they learn ASL, so that they don’t miss out on anything. Some will not just learn a handful of signs but will even become fluent as well. Also, people sometimes want to learn ASL to help spread Deaf awareness. Many are at times misinformed about the deaf community, therefore some would like to help with that as well.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, there are well over 38 million Americans that have some degree of hearing loss. About 2 million of them are classified as deaf. Some of those people that started to lose their hearing, either completely or partially, may also want to learn ASL to communicate better.
Have you ever met someone who knows 3, 4 or 5 languages? People who love to learn new languages for fun or as a hobby? Yes, these kinds of people are also wanting to learn ASL. They don’t have a special reason or a requirement for it, they just want to learn it. Who doesn’t want to learn ASL?! It is such an amazing, unique language that many people enjoy using. If you’re thinking about learning it, don’t hesitate! Go for it!
In conclusion, ASL is used by several people, not just the Deaf community. More and more people continue to learn it and use it either for work or for a family member or simply for fun. If you already know ASL, encourage others to learn this great language as well. If you don’t know it but are interested, then go right ahead and click the button right here on TakeLessons to get started!