8 Reasons You Benefit From Knowing Sign Language

Posted by: Staff Writer on Aug. 13, 2013

It’s long been promoted that learning American Sign Language (ASL) will give you an uncanny superpower: the ability to communicate underwater, through windows and even at loud bars. But unless you are a dive instructor, audiologist or bartender, these superpowers may not benefit you at your workplace. You are probably asking yourself, “how is knowing ASL an asset to my work or business?”

#1 - There are 48 million deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the USA.

That translates to over 12% of the population. While not all use ASL as their primary mode of communication, many millions do! Skimping out on learning ASL means losing opportunities to gain new customers.

#2 - Deaf and hard of hearing people talk. A lot.

They swap stories and tips and share the names of deaf-friendly businesses with each other. We know of a certain car salesman who gained 4 new customers overnight when it was discovered that he knew ASL. Word travels quickly in this tight-knit community.

#3 - Time is money.

Clear communication is essential for any business transaction to run smoothly. If you can’t communicate with your customers, communication barriers will increase frustration and confusion for you both. In the end, ineffective communication adds time to your interaction. Learn the basics of ASL so you can communicate effectively, and it’ll make the interaction go more smoothly from start to finish.

#4 - Learning ASL causes you to literally, open your eyes!

Relying on a different sense to communicate exercises your peripheral vision and trains you to become more aware of your environment. Things that you had previously missed in your environment will now be within your realm. Deaf people are notoriously sharp-eyed, and by learning ASL, you can be too! 

#5 - Put forth your best self in the marketplace.

It’s not the days of yore, where you’d go from a college degree to a job. Today’s job-market is very competitive. ASL is a very bankable skill for your resume and it increases your marketability as an employee.

#6 - Diversity is a cliché, but it shouldn’t be.

A business that incorporates inclusiveness in their business model opens the door to many more loyal customers while also promoting their brand. When you learn ASL your communication skills will extend beyond that of the deaf and hard of hearing community and will prepare you for handling a large range of language barriers. 

#7 - By learning ASL, you become a better communicator and listener.

When learning the structure of ASL, you will learn how to constantly reformulate ideas and check understanding. The communication of ideas is much more precise and situation-oriented. Those are valuable skills which non-signers often do not develop.

#8 - Learning ASL is a ticket to learning about deaf culture.

Deaf individuals have a very rich and diverse background to share with you. They aren’t in some far away country that requires an expensive flight to reach. They are right here, in your own backyard.

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In summary, learning ASL powers up your executive function – the processes you undertake for solving problems, planning, and other mentally demanding tasks in addition to having a heightened ability to monitor your environment.

If you wish to gain the attention of millions of deaf and hard of hearing individuals, learn ASL. You don’t have to learn an entire new language. Knowing your ABC’s and a few simple signs is a great place to start. When you learn and use ASL, deaf and hard of hearing customers will flock to you.  

***Looking to learn your ABC’s in Sign Language? Check out the Manual Alphabet which can be printed and placed in your employee break-room. If you’re looking to sign up for an ASL class, start at your local community college or deaf school. If they don’t offer classes directly, it’s likely they will have resources available on where to find classes in your community.

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