American Sign Language (ASL) is a complete, intricate, and visual
language that uses signs made by moving the hands along with facial expressions
and postures of the body. It is the main language of many Canadians who are Deaf
and is one of several communication options used by people who are Deaf or
In spoken language, words are formed by using the mouth and
voice to make sounds. But for people who are Deaf, the sounds of speech are not
heard, and only a portion of speech sounds can be seen on the lips. Sign
languages are based on the idea that vision is the most useful tool a deaf
person has to communicate and get information.
ASL is a
language completely separate and distinct from English. It contains all the
essential features of language—it has its own guidelines for pronunciation,
word order, and complex grammar with its own grammar, syntax and
vocabulary. While every
language has ways of signaling different functions, such as asking a question
rather than making a statement, all languages differ in how this is done. For
example, English speakers ask a question by raising the tone of their voice;
ASL users ask a question by raising their eyebrows, widening their eyes, and
tilting their bodies forward.
Just as with other languages, specific ways of expressing
ideas in ASL vary as much as ASL users do. In addition to individual
differences in expression, ASL has regional accents and dialects. Just as
certain English words are spoken differently in different parts of our country,
ASL has regional variations in the rhythm of signing, form, and pronunciation.
These books and games will help you learn a new and exciting
To join a group of students, why not sign up for
one of our ASL classes offered in Calgary and Edmonton. All of our ASL courses are taught by
qualified Deaf instructors, whose first language is American Sign Language. Please
find more information at http://deafalberta.ca/programs-services/asl-courses/.