Update:  On June 16, 2014, the door was closed on us adopting a deaf little boy we had been pursuing for nearly eight months.  Two days later, we were presented with the opportunity to adopt a little boy with a very different set of needs than what we had been preparing for.  We felt God leading us to trust Him by giving this little one a home.  We know He has a plan for the time He gave us to spend learning ASL and studying Deaf Culture, and are eager to see how He uses that in a future adoption process – next time as a family of three!  For more on this decision-making process, see this post.  ASL and the Deaf Community holds a very special place in our hearts, and we are excited to see where that takes us as a family!


Five Common Misconceptions About American Sign Language (ASL):

  1. ASL is a visual representation of English.  ASL is a language that is completely distinct of English.  In fact, although ASL is the dominant language of the Deaf in the United States, it is not based on English.  Neither the grammar nor the sign structure are similar to English.
  2. ASL is not a complete, independent language – or at least is not as full as a spoken language.  ASL has its own unique grammar, syntax, and structure, making it a full and complete language.  It is every bit as expressive and full of a language as any spoken language.
  3. ASL is universal.  ASL is primarily used in North America, but there are actually many different forms of sign language used around the world, such as British, French, Brazilian, or Japanese Sign Languages.  From the misconception that ASL is based on English, many people also assume then that British and American Sign Languages are similar, yet they are actually quite different.  Of all the signed languages used around the world, American Sign Language is most like French Sign Language.
  4. ASL is basically a system of gestures, symbols, pictures, or pantomime.  Although there are some signs that look like a visual representation of the thing they are describing, this is not a dominant feature of ASL.  Rather, ASL is a visuospatial, manual language.
  5. ASL is the same as “baby signing”.  Baby Signing is a popular technique used by parents to communicate with very young children prior to the development of vocal speech.  Although it can utilize basic signs and components of ASL, it is not entirely the same.  If you would like to teach your child true ASL, be sure to look for resources that are specifically labeled as ASL (not “sign language”, “signed English”, “Signed Exact English or SEE”, or simply “baby signing”).


If you are interested in learning American Sign Language, here are some resources we have found helpful!

Online Dictionaries & Learning Tools

Printed Dictionaries & Phrase Books


ASL for Kids




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