Relations between human beings are possible to a large extent through two types of communication: verbal and non-verbal. Some people cannot establish verbal communication due to hearing or speech problems, hence the importance of developing a non-verbal language that allows them to express themselves. In this sense, sign language is the most used communication mechanism. Sign language has a long history, the result of the need to establish communication between people with verbal communication problems. Its importance transcends individuals who can speak, but who also want to learn a language widely used in all countries of the world.
What is sign language and who uses it?
Sign language is a communication mechanism through gestures used by people with speech difficulties and/or people with hearing disabilities. It is also used by individuals who, due to hearing impairment, have not been able to develop oral communication.
In order for sign language as a communication mechanism to be accessible and recognized as a right by people who need it, Law 27/2007 of October 23 was created in Spain, thanks to which Spanish sign languages are recognized. In addition, this law makes it possible to regulate the means of supporting oral communication for deaf, deafblind, and hearing-impaired people. Therefore, Spanish sign language is legally recognized and uses a visual-gestural channel to communicate. In the second half of the 17th century, the treatise on the Spanish School of deaf mutes or Art for teaching writing and speaking of the Spanish language was published. Another system included in sign language is the dactylological system or alphabet.. It consists of spelling out the message that is intended to be transmitted by supporting each letter on the palm of the hand of the deafblind person. In this way, you can capture them tactilely.
September 23 is the date officially declared by the United Nations as the International Day of Sign Languages, thus coinciding with the anniversary of the World Federation of Deaf People. Thus, it is intended to vindicate sign language as part of the cultural and linguistic diversity of different countries.
Is there a universal sign language?
Do you wonder if sign language is universal? Well, there is no universal sign language, since each country has its own language or language. In Spain, there are two types: Spanish and Catalan. No person or entity created the sign languages of the world: they arose naturally due to the communicative need of the deaf group. Therefore, it can be affirmed that the sign language of each country was born in the same way that oral languages did. Just as different oral languages arose in each country, the same thing happened with sign languages.
Sign language has two prominent features :
Similar to mimicry, it does not consist of making oneself understood through gestures and expressions typical of mimicry. Sign language has its own grammatical structure, formalisms, vocabulary, and syntactic functions. It is a very rich language with which you can express any message or idea that you want to convey.
It is used for the language development of a deaf person. It is not an augmentative communication system nor is it used for people with hearing disabilities to work on oral communication. There are more communication systems, such as the bimodal system or the complemented speech, which are used for this purpose.
How to learn sign language
If you want to learn the sign language of your country, we provide you with some tips to make the learning process easier:
- It is a language like any other, with the great peculiarity of transmission through a channel other than oral. Thus, it has a vocabulary, syntax, grammar, and more elements that make up a language.
- The feeling of shame or fear of making a mistake while learning a language is shared by many people. It also happens with sign language, therefore, it is important to lose that fear of ridicule. Try to practice it shamelessly in the execution of gestures and expressions typical of this language.
- Learn from the interpretations offered by sign language professionals, increasingly present in organizations, institutions and the media that offer this service to the community. By carrying out an exhaustive observation task, you will learn the language and you will be able to improve your execution technique.
- Memorize the knowledge that you are acquiring and its practice. It is a fairly intuitive language, a factor that will help in this regard.
- There are many options for professional training in sign language. There are associations for people with hearing disabilities that offer training courses at different levels. There are also online courses and other digital platforms to get you started in this language.
- Learning sign language or any language implies constant practice, therefore, it is essential that you practice sign language whenever you can to assimilate concepts and perfect your technique.