Nurturing the Basics: ASL Learning Resources for Novices
American Sign Language (ASL) is a rich and expressive language that is used by the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities in the United States and parts of Canada. Learning ASL is not only a valuable skill for effective communication but also an opportunity to bridge the communication gap, foster understanding, and promote inclusivity. In a world filled with voices, there’s a profound beauty in the language of silence. American Sign Language (ASL) is a testament to the power of expression without words, a poignant form of communication used by the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities.
As we embark on this journey, we’ll explore essential resources tailored for beginners, each one a stepping stone towards becoming proficient in ASL. These resources not only offer a foundation for effective communication but also serve as a gateway to a world enriched by diverse cultures and stories. Let’s delve into the realm of ASL, where silence speaks volumes and inclusion knows no bounds.
The internet offers a treasure trove of ASL learning materials. Here are just a few online websites to get you started:
Lifeprint: Lifeprint, created by Dr. Bill Vicars, is a comprehensive resource for ASL learners at all levels. It features a full ASL curriculum with lessons, video tutorials, and a video dictionary, providing a deep dive into the language. Dr. Vicars’ expertise adds credibility to the content, making it a trusted resource.
ASL Pro: ASL Pro is a visual learner’s dream, offering an extensive ASL video dictionary with detailed sign demonstrations. What’s really interesting about this website is that it has video lessons for signs by various categories like Animals, Construction, Family & Wedding, etc.
Signschool: Another website that offers an interactive learning experience with lessons and quizzes, making it ideal for self-paced learners. It also has some games that you can play to quickly test your knowledge. SignSchool also provides mobile apps for iOS and Android for those who want to learn ASL on the go.
Handspeak: Handspeak features a comprehensive ASL dictionary, cultural insights, and free lessons. It also offers premium memberships for those looking to delve deeper into ASL. With its versatile content, it caters to a wide range of learners, from beginners to advanced signers.
Gallaudet University’s ASL Connect: ASL Connect from Gallaudet University offers a mix of free and paid courses, accommodating learners of varying levels. Its connection to Gallaudet University, a prestigious institution for the Deaf and hard of hearing, adds credibility to the resources available.
Besides these options, you can also find ASL classes on popular continued education learning websites like Udemy and Courser.
Based on recent information, here are some popular apps for learning ASL on iOS and Android.
Lingvano: Lingvano is highly recommended for beginners and offers structured lessons to teach practical conversation skills quickly. It is praised for its daily, 10-minute lessons and the fact that all of its teachers are Deaf, bringing authenticity and passion to the learning experience. It is available for free with in-app purchases on both iOS (Rating: 4.9; 36,166 reviews) and Android (Rating: 4.7; 31,499 votes) platforms.
The ASL App: This app is ideal for flashcard learning and offers a user-friendly way to learn essential vocabulary and useful phrases covering a wide range of topics. It’s designed by Deaf people to assist friends and family in learning how to sign. The ASL App is available for free with in-app purchases on iOS (Rating: 3.5; 781 reviews) and Android (Rating: 3.8; 1,015 votes).
YouTube is a fantastic platform for visual learners to access a wide range of ASL content. Here are some popular ASL channels:
ASL Meredith: Meredith teaches ASL through informative lessons and fun vlogs about Deaf culture. She also has a website where she offers a beginner level course for $199.
2. Rochelle Barlow: Rochelle offers ASL lessons on a variety of topics, making her channel perfect for beginners and more advanced learners.
3. ASL Nook: This channel is designed for kids and their families, making it an engaging resource for young learners. ASL Nook is run by Sheena McFeely who was the only deaf child in a hearing family and is now raising two signers.
Engaging with the Deaf community and practicing your ASL skills with native signers is crucial for fluency. Here are some ways to get involved:
Local Deaf Organizations: Search for local Deaf organizations, community centers, and clubs in your area. They often host ASL classes and events, providing opportunities to interact with Deaf individuals. As an example, here are some classes in Chicago: CHS sign language classes, ASL Institute
Meetup Groups:Meetup.com hosts ASL-related events and gatherings. Attend these meetings to practice signing and meet fellow learners. head over to meetup to Find Events & Groups in your area or online.
Reddit – r/ASL: Reddit has an active ASL community where learners can ask questions, share resources, and connect with ASL enthusiasts and Deaf individuals.
AllDeaf Community: This is one of the largest online communities for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, where learners can ask questions and engage with experienced signers.
Deaf Chat Coffee: Some cities have Deaf Chat Coffee events where people can meet and sign in a relaxed, social setting. Look for these in your area.
Learning American Sign Language is a rewarding and enriching experience that allows you to connect with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities, breaking down barriers to communication. With the plethora of online resources, YouTube channels, online courses, and community offerings available, you can embark on your ASL learning journey at your own pace and preferences. Whether you’re a beginner or looking to enhance your signing skills, these resources will help you take your first steps towards fluency in ASL. So, start today, and embark on a journey of language and culture.
This blog was written mostly using chatGPT, a potential tool for increased accessibility. Do you think this is an appropriate use of chatGPT? Why or why not? Let me know!
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