I was sitting on the train a few weeks ago — waiting to pull out of the station. Three young girls (probably high school) came in and sat in the 4 seater ahead of me. They began conversing animatedly. Laughing. Giggling. And I watched. Fascinated. What caught my attention was — they didn’t make a sound. One of the girls was deaf. And the three were mouthing words to each other and using sign language. “Signing.” They were fast. And fluent.
American Sign Language (“ASL”) originated in the early 19th century at the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, CT. Today, it is used by nearly a million people. I have two friends who are conversant in ASL: my partner Dave D. and my former priest, Fr. Bob M. (both Eagle Scouts by the way). Watching these three young women “talking” was something of a wake up for me. Since then, when I have lunch at my desk (which is often), I will sometimes log onto an ASL site just to stretch my small brain. The site is http://lifeprint.com. I can say “I am a grandfather” and a few other things in ASL. It is pretty cool to creak open this door. I even looked into the cost of a class at a Loop college a few blocks away.
If you want to stretch your brain, this would be a great way to do it. I guess I have a special reason to look into ASL. You see my father was clinically deaf from World War II. And he never learned ASL. And neither did I. . . . .