Whether you’re interested in learning sign language because you have a child who is deaf, have lost hearing yourself, need to sign at work, or are simply looking to pick up a new skill, congratulations! You’ve taken the first step toward learning the art of American Sign Language.
As you’ll begin to understand in the upcoming chapters, sign language is more than just a series of hand gestures. It is a natural, flexible way of communicating that will tap your creativity and introduce you to the unique culture of the signing community. Have you ever wondered how babies can learn and communicate with sign language before they can speak? It’s because using gestures to communicate with one another is instinctive—it’s a natural part of our shared human history. As you’ll learn in this book, American Sign Language uses these instinctive hand gestures (such as touching the throat to indicate thirst) coupled with body language and additional signs to incorporate the important elements of expression and intonation into your message.
Learn Sign Language in a Hurry will teach you how to combine natural hand gestures with eye movement, facial expressions, head movement, body posture, and other forms of body language to communicate with and understand people in the Deaf community. After practicing the signs and exercises in this book, you will be able to ask and answer questions, describe an encounter with an old friend, and use signs to paint a visual picture for your audience.
Each chapter in this book will build on the chapter before. You will start out by establishing a basic understanding of the rules of signing, and will then build your vocabulary and confidence as you continue to learn. Like most languages, sign language requires plenty of practice (often in front of a mirror) to get it right, but once you’ve developed some skill, a whole world of possibility awaits you. And if you need or want to learn basic sign language fast—this is the book for you!