Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Why ASL?

Recently, parents, caregivers, and childcare professionals have started using sign language to communicate
with preverbal infants. Signing with babies is gaining popularity because it empowers children with early
communication skills and helps to significantly reduce frustration.
Currently, there are two schools of thought about what type of signs to use with babies. First, there are people
who advocate for the use of signs from an established, standardized sign language such as American Sign
Language (ASL). The SIGN with your BABY ® program is firmly based on ASL. There are others who feel that
signing is only useful for a short period of time in a child’s life; therefore, they feel that it is best for parents
to make up their own signs. These ‘home signs’ are made up of simple gestures or movements and are not
standardized, meaning that one person’s sign for ‘dog’ may be completely different from another person’s sign
for ‘dog’.
If you are investigating both of these approaches, we encourage you to read this document. It is a
collaborative statement prepared by Dr. Joseph Garcia and Northlight Communications, publishers of SIGN
with your BABY ®, with contributions from educators, parents, caregivers, and researchers. Together, we have
thoroughly investigated both methods and we have come to this unified conclusion:
There are compelling advantages to using standardized ASL signs!
Allow us to share with you some of our experiences, insights, and observations that have led us to become
such strong advocates for the use of standardized ASL signs in early communication programs for hearing
ASL signs Using                                                                             ASL signs with babies
• offer consistency                                                                  • facilitates social opportunities
• are easy to learn                                                                  • offers educational advantages
• are easy for babies to understand                                         • reinforces motor development milestones
• are widely known and easily accessible
• allow for creativity
In this position paper, we will discuss each of these advantages in detail and share with you some of the
reasons why so many parents and educators support the use of ASL in programs for young children.
Read more here

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