Sign language: when, where and why to learn it

The sign language It is an effective form of communication through gestures that makes it possible for people with some type of hearing and / or speech disability to express their ideas and feelings, learn, interact … in short, achieve a better integration in the environment around them. It is not an exclusive tool for deaf people. More and more people decide to learn it, even if they do not have hearing problems, for multiple reasons, from the desire to communicate more effectively with close people who cannot hear, to the interest in their own personal growth.

Sign language

What is sign language based on? It’s universal?

It is one of the first concepts that is sometimes misinterpreted. There is no single sign language in the worldSince, as with oral language, languages ​​change according to geographical areas, countries or regions. The State Confederation of Deaf People CNSE (@CNSEinfo) clarifies that in our country the Spanish Sign Language (LSE) and Catalan Sign Language (LSC).

As the Discapnet platform explains (@Discapnet), this language is based on a system of gestures and visual expressions. The signs used can also be tactile, that is, made on the palm of another person, something that is used in communication with people deafblind.

Like any other language, this is a complex «living being», which has its own grammar and vocabulary, which is expanded with new words and expressions to adapt to new needs. At present, the two existing sign languages ​​in our country are recognized by law. The legislation highlights its essential importance by regulating, in addition, the means of supporting communication for people with hearing disabilities or deafblind people. It covers, for example, requirements as basic as the possibility of having a sign language interpreter when a person requires it to be able to carry out an official procedure, attend a medical consultation, a trial …

Sign language

Sign language and its learning

Sign language is one more option, to increase communication possibilities, which can be useful to a heterogeneous group. Some deaf people have learned it in childhood and others have decided to do it as adults, to promote their own integration. It is also common to learn this language in advanced ages, given the probability or certainty of hearing loss. Sign language is a tool available to anyone with hearing difficulties, to which they can always turn or at specific times. Their learning is perfectly compatible with the use of hearing aids or implants that improve hearing.

The different sign language courses offered by the territorial federations, grouped in the State Network for the Teaching of Sign Language, located at the headquarters of the CNSE, as well as those that teach associations and institutions, follow, in their organization, the common european framework guidelines for teaching different languages. As with any of them, there are different levels (A1, A2, B1 and B2) that will be mastered (and accredited) as knowledge progresses.

In these courses, both the dactylology, that is, the correspondence of a gesture with a letter, such as the signs that correspond to each word. It must be emphasized that this language has nothing to do with mimicry or lip reading or any other erroneous belief of the many that may appear. It is a language and is studied the same as any other, combining both the vocabulary and the order of gestures and visual expressions that are equivalent to words. The greater or lesser difficulty in learning will depend on the qualities of each person, the children always having it easier (as in any other language).

Sign language

What options are there to learn sign language?

Associations, institutions and also private companies offer face-to-face sign language courses, some free and others that require paying the cost of the corresponding classes. The new technologies they have also made effective resources available to all concerned. As an example, the Ministry of Equality of the Junta de Andalucía (@serviciosAND) has a specific website «Know and Learn the Spanish Sign LanguageWith which you can familiarize yourself with the basics of the language. For its part, the Federation of Deaf People of the Community of Madrid (@FeSorCam) offers courses of different levels throughout the year. Likewise, the CNSE Foundation has a wide training offer in this field, as does the ONCE Foundation (@Foundation_ONCE).

As you can see, multiple options so that everyone who wants to can learn the sign language that helps to break down barriers.