Have you always wanted to learn American Sign Language, but didn’t know where to start?
Well, the best place to learn all of the rules, parameters and the full language, is from a certified, Deaf ASL professor. You should do that if you are able to at all. You should also try to find a Deaf community to hang out with and go to Deaf events. Most of the communities are so amazing and we welcome all levels of ASL. We are excited for you to learn and happy to help. If you want to do that, but you don’t have the money or the venue to take those special classes; the next best place to start, is by heading over to YouTube.
There are several great places online where you can get started learning for no cost. The best and first, is Free ASL classes at Gallaudet . Next, I would say Lifeprint.com & Hantdspeak.com is another, but first I wanted to let you know that I do have some “ASL Basics- Vocabulary” lessons at my YouTube channel :
The important thing is that you don’t just learn vocabulary, although that’s a great place to start. You need to learn about the language, culture, community and its history! I do have several videos that are a little bit about each of these things. I have one video about “How to get a Sign Name”. There are other videos that include “Deaf President Now” movement in the 1980’s. Also the Sign Language community that was living in Martha’s Vinyard, Massachusetts; in the early 18th century until 1952.
I’ve been using ASL since I was 11 years old. I was babysitting and hung out with a Deaf family of 6. I grew up mildly Hard of Hearing due to recurrent ear infections and numerous ruptured ear drums with scarring. I always had to sit in the front of the class because I couldn’t hear well. Later, when my elementary school performed hearing tests, they informed my parents that I needed tubes in my ears because I wasn’t hearing well. I had multiple operations from ages 7 through 12 or 13 years. However, I did not get hearing aids until much later.
I went to Deaf school events, such football games at MSD (Michigan school for Deaf). I fit right in and felt comfortable. I later went to college and a group of 16 Deaf students in the dorms, were my best friends. We watched “General Hospital” with closed captioned. We went dancing and had some great times together!
Later on, I took a break for a year and a half & went to work at a school in Arizona with Deaf preschoolers. I loved that job. I was ecstatic to find out that I’d beaten out several other candidates for that position because of my skills. I also worked at a Deaf relay center called ADARA or “Arizona Deaf Assistance Referral Association” while I was living in Scottsdale.
After working there for about a year and a half, I went back home to finish my degree in Sign language studies & Interpreting. I then got hired as an educational interpreter for a school district and stayed on Interpreting for my Alma Mater. I got married, had two daughters and 8 years later I became a single mom.
I needed to take care of my girls and I immediately got a full time job with full benefits at the University hospital. I was a “Secretarial float” & wore a pager so that I could be notified when Deaf clients/patients needed me to Interpret for them. I loved my job. At that same time, I was an Interpreter at a school district nearby. I also volunteered as a pro tactile interpreter for Deaf/Blind medical screening events a few times each year.
I continued attending workshops at my Alma Mater and one in particular stands out in my memory. I met an amazingly intelligent and kind man who impacted the rest of my life, in a good way! His name is Art Roehrig and he was a Deaf/Blind guest speaker at one of my most memorable workshops. He told stories about how he’d grown up at a residential Deaf school and discovered that he had Ushers Syndrome, when he was a teen. He shared jokes and told us all about how he was living independently. He was a public speaking and later worked at and then retired from Gallaudet University. I still email with my long time friend, Art.
Back in 2002, I was involved in an Catastrophic car accident. A man ran through a red light and I suffered multiple injuries, surgeries and a Traumatic brain injury. I went through 11 surgeries up until now, and 3 years of TBI (brain injury) rehabilitation. I am left with many medical issues, including several high pain chronic illnesses, chronic pain, a stroke, heart attack and I received a permanent dual chamber pacemaker. Since the car accident, I’ve had vision issues, such as “halo vision” and a Convergence Insufficiency. Also, due to the TBI, my hearing declined even more. Prisms were placed in my eyeglasses for quite awhile and I was fitted with two hearing aids for mild.
My hearing declined over the years and the past 4-5 years it was rapidly declining more. I was waiting until my husband retired this past year, to be fitted with new hearing aids. They’re so expensive ($6,000.00), so I had to wait until we got new insurance, that would help with the cost.
When I went for the hearing test, they were concerned because my bilateral hearing loss had very much worsened. The right side was also now a mixed hearing loss and not only sensory-neural. The ENT ordered a CT scan & later in May 2019, I was diagnosed with an auditory tumor, called a Cholesteatoma. I had a very scary & difficult brain/inner ear surgery on July 26, 2019. I got two new & improved digital hearing aids. But they’ve been nothing but trouble with one thing or another since I got them! We had to pay $1,500.00 of the cost plus $150.00 for the ear molds (which now both have split on me and I’ve only had them for a few months). I’m ready to give up on them.
My hearing bones, eardrum & Mastoid were all diseased from the tumor. I received a Tympanoplasty, a Mastoidectomy (called a Tympanomastoidectomy) & a titanium Anvil, a prosthetic ear-bone. I’ve had Vertigo, a tingling, droopy top, right lip & my tongue has no sensation or taste on the right side, since that surgery this Summer. Oh… and I’m Deaf in my right ear and Moderate/severe HoH in my left ear. The deafness isn’t my problem. The fact that I have to live a lifelong battle with a reoccurring tumor, (that’s like a cancer in the way that it grows into the brain & can kill you. Also in the way it can repeatedly grow back); that is my problem! I have to go back in Spring 2020, for another of the same surgery, possibly. The micro Neuro-Otologist surgeon, told me “to be prepared”. This thing is the “Never ending story”. An endless battle that results in multiple painful & scary surgeries and deafness. But as I said, deafness is not the problem. I’ve been part of the Deaf community since age 11. It’s the lifelong battle with more pain & surgeries on top of the current pain…..that is the major issue for me.
If you’d like to follow me in social media, I will leave the links for you, below:
6) http://www.facebook.com/groups/ASLExpress (*This one is an ASL info, & help group)
My new Hearing aids: