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Sign language

A sign language (also signed language) is a language which chiefly uses manual communication to convey meaning, as opposed to spoken language. This can involve simultaneously combining hand shapes, orientation and movement of the hands, arms or body, and facial expressions to express a speaker's thoughts. Sign languages share many similarities with spoken languages (sometimes called "oral languages"), which depend primarily on sound, and linguists consider both to be types of natural language. Although there are some significant differences between signed and spoken languages, such as how they use space grammatically, sign languages show the same linguistic properties and use the same language faculty as do spoken languages. They should not be confused with body language, which is a kind of non-linguistic communication.

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Beautiful and heart-warming video of a deaf Ugandan teen learning sign language.

Contributed by Shayna Rose Horowitz

Using sign language and song to reach out to people.

Contributed by Dana Zavorka

Babies can learn sign language? Who knew?

Contributed by Rodolfo Salgado

The power of sign language. This past spring I visited Jamaica on a service trip. While there I met a wonderful deaf lady. Through the use of sign language I found out that she had been unable to communicate with anyone for many years since no one else in the nursing home she was in knew sign language. In fact, because of the great poverty in Kingston, Jamaica, volunteers often came in and out and very few people even knew she was deaf. Because she was unable to communicate she was very lonely, being treated badly for being defiant (but all she knew was that other people were angry with her), and was forced to eat food that made her sick. Signing with her was the highlight of my trip and definitely one of the most life-changing moments I have ever had. Knowing sign language was a skill I took for granted, but now I know that it may help me change lives.

Contributed by Morgan Perry

I was an ASL student at my high school for three years. It's an amazing way to communicate with people without necessarily using your voice. I had the opportunity to have a Deaf teacher and learn much about the Deaf culture and get a first hand experience with communicating with Deaf people. It's also neat how easily you can teach younger children. Now a days, most children learn sign language before they begin to speak. Most people have used some sort of sign language in their life without even thinking about it. It's very easy to pick up on and you don't even have to speak! You just use your hands.

Contributed by Lindley Hipsher

In Lincoln's second term in office a bill came through the senate about allowing deaf and blind students go to college. It passed through the senate and house with flying colors. Galludet university recognizes the day Lincoln signed the bill as "the Charter". Galludet celebrates The Charter every april which also falls around Lincolns birth. In the Lincoln Memorial, Lincolns hands are shaped into an "A" and "L" in sign language to represent this bill being signed.

Contributed by Shelby Yenni

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