One size does not fit all for sign language

sign languageDid you know American Sign Language is one of the most used languages in the United States? The 2000 census reported two million people in the country use this type of sign language to communicate. We can only imagine what the 2010 census will tell us!

What many people do not realize is that there is not a single, universal dialect or version of sign language. Just as languages vary between countries and regions, so does sign language! In fact, more than 100 types of sign language exist!

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your use of sign language was different from the local variety?

Sign Language varies so much that even American Sign Language (ASL) and British Sign Language (BSL) have completely different alphabets. BSL uses a two-handed alphabet, such as the one on the left above. ASL, which is used in the United States and Canada, uses one hand to indicate letters (as seen on the right).

Below are examples of the world’s sign languages:

Algerian Sign Language
Kenyan Sign Language
Brazilian Sign Language
Honduras Sign Language
Mayan Sign Languages
Bengali Sign Language
Chinese Sign Language
Hawaii Pidgin Sign Language
Malaysian Sign Language
Bulgarian Sign Language
Greek Sign Language
Israeli Sign Language
United Arab Emirates Sign Language