Hearing Loss in Children
American Sign Language (ASL)
American Sign Language (ASL) is not a building block for a language — it is a language itself. While English and Spanish are spoken languages, ASL is a visual language. Because you may not be familiar with ASL, it is included in this section even though it's not a building block like the others.
ASL is a complete language. You communicate using hand shapes, direction and motion of the hands, and facial expressions. ASL has its own grammar, word order, and sentence structure. You can share feelings, jokes, and complete ideas using ASL.
Like any other language, ASL must be learned. You can take ASL classes and start teaching your baby even while you are still learning it yourself. Your baby can learn ASL as a first language. Also, experts in ASL can work with you and your baby to help you learn ASL.
Children and adults can use many other building blocks with ASL. Finger spelling is one building block that is almost always used with ASL. Finger spelling is used to spell out words that don't have a sign — such as names of people and places.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
Hearing Loss Team
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30333
TTY: (888) 232-6348
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