Celebrating International Day of Sign Languages

Two women communicate with the use of Pro-Tactile American Sign Language (PTASL)

Perkins School for the Blind Spokesperson Jaime Lard (left), who is deafblind, works with Framingham State University student Elizabeth LaBorne during an ASL Interpreting program class on Wednesday March 22, 2017.

September 19, 2019

September 23rd is International Day of Sign Languages, a great start to the International Week of the Deaf!

Today The World Federation for the Deaf estimates that there are 72 million deaf people worldwide using over 300 different sign languages every day! The United Nations recognizes sign language as an equal to spoken languages within the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and worldwide 41 countries recognize sign language as an offical langauge. Sign language is complex, utilizing hand and arm movents, facial expressions, and body positions.

In the United States, it is approximated that 250,000-500,000 deaf Americans use American Sign Language (ASL). In addition to this number, deafblind individuals may also use ASL as a form of communication through an approach called Pro-Tactile American Sign Language or PTASL. Deafblind individuals may use a variety of methods to communicate (picture-symbols, object-symbols, braille, spoken word, etc.) based on their residual hearing and vision, cause of disability, educational background, and personal preferences.

However, PTASL can be a meaningful form of communication for some. In fact, Pro-Tactile American Sign Language was developed by individuals who are deafblind! As a celebration of the Interantional Day of Sign Languages, we are sharing 4 great resources regarding American Sign Language below:

National Association of the Deaf — The National Association of the Deaf identifies on their website as a civil rights organization by and for deaf individuals. The website lists a variety of wonderful resources for deaf individuals as well as parents of deaf children, including deaf community events.

WonderBaby — Wondering how a blind child can benefit from sign language? Learn more on WonderBaby!

ASL for Free with Gallaudet — Gallaudet University (Washington D.C.) has an online database for those interested in learning American Sign Language. The wesbite includes basic vocabulary and interactive online classes! This is a great resource for those just starting out.

ASLPro — ASLpro is an online video dictionary for those interested in learning specific signs.