Any notion that ASL is mere pantomime is now considered old-fashioned, even ethnocentric. Today, Signing in general, has become accepted and respected. So much that it was commemorated on a U.S. postage stamp printed in the 1980’s. The hand on the stamp is signing “I love You.” which is a combination of the manual letters “I,” “L,” and “Y” and has come to be thought of as one of the most well known ASL hand shapes.
After much struggle by Deaf people in the U.S., ASL is now universally accepted as a distinct and legitimate language (this occurred in the1960’s), independent of English (as is true of other sign languages associated in other countries). This was a major milestone for the deaf community for a very important reason: language and self-identity are inseparable.
The language that an individual uses lies at the heart of his or her cultural identity. More than history, geography, or any other cultural quality, we are what we speak. The acceptance of ASL as a legitimate language has been crucial to the deaf community.
After all, if you are what you speak, what does it mean to have your language dismissed as an irrelevant oddity? Those who are Deaf, define an important part of themselves in terms of their culture and language, just as those do who are hearing.
Most people would argue that Sign Language is not a commonly used language. Well wrap your head around this, ASl is the fourth most used Language in the U.S and the third most used Language in the world rich in culture and history. Still don’t think you should learn it?
As always I leave you with this remark….Learn ASL!