When I lost my hearing in April 2012 and found out the loss would be permanent, I felt compelled to learn sign language because I didn’t want to rely completely on lip-reading. I’m very good at it, but -- and my deaf friends will agree -- it gets tiring and no matter how good you are, you won’t catch everything.
American Sign Language (ASL) is not English converted into hand gestures, which is how many hearing people think of it. It is its own language based on gestures. My family and I are learning ASL because:
1. I take out my hearing aids when I get home from work and I don’t wear them on the weekend. So, if you want to talk to me, you have to sign.
2. I love languages. I learned Hebrew and Spanish at an early age.
3. Learning sign language connects me to other people that sign, typically people who are
hard of hearing or deaf. Please note – not all deaf or hard of hearing people know or want to learn sign language and that should be acceptable.
4. People say I always move my hands when I talk so now I move my hands with a purpose – to communicate with others.
5. When I speak now I speak loud or at least this is what people tell me, so I would rather turn my voice off and sign.
My youngest daughter, Abby, who is 11 years old, loves to fingerspell everything. She doesn’t really get the signing of words yet so we rent Signing Times from the library to help her learn new words on her level. I just love how excited she gets when she watches them. Rachel Coleman, the creator of Signing Times, has an amazing story about sign language, her
children, hearing aids, and cochlear implants that I think everyone should hear. Please listen and be touched.
My name is Jeff Swartz and I live in Atlanta, GA. I am married to wonderful wife and have two teenaged daughter.