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 hard-of-hearing.
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.
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.