Sign languages are not universally the same. Most countries have their own version of sign language, with each region signing differently according to its dialect. However many deaf Canadians use American Sign Language (ASL) because Canada does not have an official sign language.
Mohawk College sign language instructor Dennis Nash led a workshop breaking down some myths around sign language on Friday, Sept. 23, celebrating International Sign Language Day.
“Learning ASL is like developing a new sense because you will be able to communicate without opening your mouth,” Nash told the workshop. “First, you have to break the English grammar rules. I promise you all, you won’t need them.”
According to Nash, ASL is used by half a million people in Canada and the U.S. One sign can have multiple meanings, so ASL users must rely on facial expressions to understand context.
“I started using sign because one of my best friends had an accident and lost his hearing, so I tried, and I liked it,” Luna Linares said. “I learned in Spanish because I came from Peru, but now I want to learn the American, which surprises me because it is very different.”
Nash and the Mohawk Students’ Association are planning to host a monthly workshop starting in October to provide students with different levels of certification in ASL.