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Q: Learning American Sign Language (ASL) ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Learning American Sign Language (ASL)
Category: Reference, Education and News > Education
Asked by: tiffanyflr-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 23 Feb 2003 17:59 PST
Expires: 25 Mar 2003 17:59 PST
Question ID: 166177
My partner and I are very interested in learning American Sign
Language (ASL); however, I am unsure of the most effective way to go
about doing so.  I've done some research on the Internet and there are
a lot of conflicting opinions out there - there are many books on the
subject, for example, but quite a few educators state ASL cannot be
effectively learned from a book since it is a visual language.  In
addition to the written material, there are advertisements for videos,
community college classes, online courses, library resources, tutors,
etc.  The choices just boggle the mind.  I would like some direction
on the best way to learn ASL; our goal is to eventually become
interpreters at our church and to better be able to communicate with
our friends there who are deaf.  Plus, it is just so beautiful to look

Neither of us have any previous knowledge except for knowing a few
random signs.  As far as the method, we want to know the most
effective way without any constraints, but our eventual choice of
education would most likely be influenced by the following: my time is
very limited, as I work full-time and go to school, so an onsite class
at a set time might not be possible.  We know people at our church we
can practice with "live" several times a week, so we would have the
opportunity to sign outside of the actual education times.  We would
both be learning it at the same time, but we only have one computer,
so I wonder if online education might be a bit awkward if we end up
learning at different speeds.  I realize that becoming fluent will
take time (I've read it takes an average from 1-2 years), but we would
like to become proficient as quickly as possible.

Thank you very much!
Subject: Re: Learning American Sign Language (ASL)
Answered By: journalist-ga on 23 Feb 2003 20:31 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Greetings Tiffanyflr:

I am in agreement that ASL is best learned through a visual medium as
I learned what I know of it first-hand during my three years as a
counselor at the state Easter Seals camp.  After contemplating the
best time-efficient and visual way for you to approach your learning,
I believe what will best suit your needs is to first purchase or rent
a video (or series) that teaches ASL for church/religious use. 
Because that is your immediate goal for learning, then by starting
there you can do the deaf church members a more immediate service
while you continue to expand your general ASL knowledge.

The first thing to do before purchasing investing your money is to
inquire at your local library if there exists such a video in the
state library system.    The library will send a query to the regional
library headquarters or the state HQ if they don't have it and you
should have an answer within a week or two, depending on their system.
 (And, if they don't have it, you might consider gifting your local
library with your copy when you have finished with it - that way, many
people could benefit from your generosity and it may also be a
tax-deductible donation).  Also, query the following organizations to
find out what they feel is the best video series for you to use to
learn church and general ASL:

National Association of the Deaf
814 Thayer Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910-4500
301-587-1788 Voice
301-587-1789 TTY
301-587-1791 FAX

Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and hard of Hearing
AG Bell
3417 Volta Place, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Telephone: 202-337-5220
TTY: 202-337-5221
Fax: 202-337-8314
Online contact form at

Here is a list of ASL videos that I discovered in my research:

Religious Sign Language Video $19.99

Interax Video Sign Language Course  $199 for six-video course (download a clip from the vidoe)

Sign Language Made Simple - video course from
From a link at - also has
other links that may be of interest to you

Language Learning: American Sign Language CD

Sign Language for Everyone - 2nd edition CD  $39.95

Heartland Ministries videos
From a link at which also offers a
CD course for $29.99 - this looks very interesting - please check it
out at

Bring ASL video collections to your library and a list of libraries
that have them

ASL Video Series
$39.95 each for videos 1 through 5 of a 12 part series [the website
states that 6 through 12 are not available]

I'm sure you've seen most, if not all, of these but the CDs look
promising.  You and your partner are lucky to be able to practive
"live" and with a video or a CD series, you will be able to do it at
your own pace, on your own schedule and in the medium I found the most
educational in my own learning - the visual medium.

Related to your topic, I located an interesting article regarding the
use of a television with closed captioning during services.  It's
located at and reads in
part "Closed captioning is a way to expand your ministry not only to
deaf people, but to many hard-of-hearing people (especially the
elderly) and to people just learning English as a second language.
This article will describe how closed captioning works, and why it
could be right for you."  I wanted to include it for your ministry's

I hope my suggestions and research are of assistance to you.  Should
you need any clarification, please request it and I will be happy to


sign language video church
religious sign language video
ASL video church religious
SE video church religious
learn signed english religious video
american sign language and signed english video
deaf association
deaf organization
tiffanyflr-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Journalist, thank you very much for the information you provided.  It
has given me an excellent basis to decide what my next steps should
be.  Thank you!

Subject: Re: Learning American Sign Language (ASL)
From: journalist-ga on 19 Mar 2003 10:40 PST
Thank you for asking such an interesting question and I appreciate
your rating and comments.  Godspeed with your ASL studies!

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