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A story without words

on June 20, 2012
English: "American Sign Language" in...

English: “American Sign Language” in SignWriting. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ha! Guess you thought this would be an empty blog. Is it possible to tell a story without words? Some people believe a picture paints a thousand words but the story  would be derive from the viewer’s own experiences. So back to the question, can you tell a story without words? Yes.

The most beautiful and detailed stories can be told without a single spoken word. I have been blessed over the years to work with the deaf. If you have never experienced a deaf storytelling event then you have missed out on one of the most incredible events of your life time. A good deaf story-teller doesn’t require those present to know sign language. Their body and motions engulf you in the moment transporting you to places that only a deaf storyteller can.

Sign language is a beautiful language. It truly is a language, not a few short hand signals that make up a sentence. Just like us Southerners, when certain deaf chat, they have their own short cuts. If you have ever heard Jeff Foxworthy, then you know what I mean. Southerners have a way of condensing  sentences to a mess of vowel sounding representations for various phrases. I cannot even begin to attempt to spell it. I urge everyone to take the challenge to learn a few signs so if you meet up with a deaf person you can at least have a conversation. Plus, there are many benefits to learning sign that you can use daily.

Did you know that babies can sign as early as 6 months? An infant can be taught to sign some basic signs starting at birth. I have seen 6 to 8 month olds asking for food, acknowledging pain, and even using the sign for mom and dad long before they say their first words. Babies who sign early are less frustrated, same can be said for the parents. Trying to figure out why a baby is crying is quite a task for some. It also helps develop a part of the brain which gives a child a boost later in life. Only positive gains in teaching your infant to sign.

Kids with learning challenges can learn to sign to boost spelling and reading.  Learning the sign language alphabet and using it to study spelling words has shown to improve struggling spellers. I have had personal experience with this  as a special education teacher, as a parent of a child with challenges, and for me personally.

I need to note there are various types of signing. Signed Exact English has a sign for every word and follows the same grammar rules as we speak.  American Sign Language which has its own syntax and grammar rules.  Some folks simply gesture as a means of signing. A good resource about signing can be found below in the links.

Some people think that sign language cannot be in written form but that is not correct. The picture on this blog is how SignWriting would write “American Sign Language” in  form that deaf and hearing alike can understand. Please check out the site for more information. Once you learn the basic symbols you will find it is very easy to understand. Often facial inflections and other body motions are left off when people are being taught ASL, but with SignWriting, it captures it all. I found using SignWriting an easier way to pick up the signs because it is exactly the way the sign should be. Yes, even the deaf and those that sign  can be what I call, “whiny signers” or “fast flyers.” Either they are sloppy and floppy or their hands fly so fast it is nearly impossible to understand them. Hmmm, the same as with speaking, some are just a challenge to understand. It is best to be very clear in your signing because there is a slight twist in some of the signs for naughty words. Many are often very close to commonly used signs. Many deaf youngsters will use this against newbies to signing so let this be a warning.

You can never go wrong with learning a new language. The benefits of signing reach far beyond what you might think. Give it a try!

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4 responses to “A story without words

  1. sgrovesuss says:

    This is an excellent post, filled with interesting resources. Thank you for the mention of LipreadingMom.com.

    Blessings!
    Shanna Groves
    http://LipreadingMom.com

  2. I simply want to tell you that I am all new to blogs and really loved your web page. Very likely I’m going to bookmark your blog . You really come with very good article content. With thanks for sharing your web-site.

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