Upon hearing of the news about an assault on a deaf man on the grounds of misinterpreting sign language for gang signs, I thought we could use some information about sign language awareness for individuals with hearing impairment or difficulty.

Sign language is a form of communication that does not rely on acoustically conveyed sound patterns. Meaning is conveyed via the simultaneous combining of hand shapes, orientation and movement of the hands, arms and body, supported by the use of facial expressions. Some sign languages have been granted legal recognition, whereas a number of other forms of sign language have no status whatsoever. International Sign is the sign language used in international Deaf events such as the Deaflympics and meetings of the World Federation of the Deaf. It is also worth mentioning that some forms of sign language have also developed in hearing communities in areas where speech is not deemed practical or permitted, for example in cycling code of conduct and many kinds of sports too.

Most languages across the world have a sign language counterpart due to the fact that deaf members in a community will generate their own sign language. Hence, when referring to foreign languages as a whole, one should keep both oral and sign languages in mind. Nevertheless, despite the fact that spoken languages and deaf sign languages in deaf communities have emerged simultaneously, they appear to be rather unrelated and feature different structures at their core. Accordingly, they exhibit their own complex spatial grammar which is very different from the grammar used in spoken language. This is probably due to the fact that there are a large number of unique linguistic features that emerge from the ability of sign languages to convey meaning in varying sectors of the visual field simultaneously. Iconicity is also more systematic and widespread in sign languages. It should be emphasised, however, that the latter are not merely a visual rendition of oral languages.

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Nowadays, there are many centres that teach and promote sign languages. Whether it is that you are close to a hearing impaired person, or for work-related purposes, you can find a course that suits your needs.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

If you are looking for an expert in the languages we can help you with then do let us know and get in touch.  Our linguists are across the globe so we can help you anywhere – all you need to do is to contact us.