Sign language sweeps Sanderson


The Odyssey online

This chart depicts the alphabet and numbers in sign language.

Communication is one of life’s everyday necessities that is often taken for granted. Every time we speak or listen, we are using a gift that not everyone is fortunate enough to receive. In fact, roughly two million Americans do not understand spoken language, and of that number 500,000 of them are deaf. However, the majority of those affected are people living with disabilities such as Down’s syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, and aphasia.
Sign language breaks the barrier between people who are fully capable of understanding spoken language and those who are not. Signing uses hand motions, facial expressions, and arm or body movements for nearly every word in the English language.
Varying based on location, sign language differs across the globe. In the United States, we use American sign language (ASL), but in Ghana they use Ghanaian sign language, and others use Nigerian sign language. Since its creation in 1620-by Juan Pablo de Bonet, sign language has changed the lives of millions.
Sanderson senior Rachel Estes and juniors Nyah Roberts and Ireland Gattens know enough signs to effectively communicate with students in Passing Along Lifelong Smiles (P.A.L.S), a club that promotes interaction with AU-IV students.
Estes stated, “I want to be a Special Ed teacher and sign language will enable me to communicate with the kids better.” Roberts and Gattens both agreed that efficient communication played a major role in their decisions to learn signs.
Learning sign language might seem like it would be difficult, but Gattens disagrees, “It was actually easier than I expected, to pick them up and learn basic signs,” she said.
In addition to help translating words to signs in classroom, sign language interpreters can be found at Starbucks, the Super Bowl, and at concerts. Snoop Dogg held a concert in which his interpreter Holly Maniatty put on a show so impressive that the performance instantly went viral.
Even if you do not choose a profession that requires the use of sign language, there are certain universal signs that every person should know: the alphabet, numbers, what, yes, no, please, thank you, choking, and stop. You can find these at and Sign language is valuable knowledge to have, as it expands who we are capable of connecting to, and helps build a more inclusive society.