Discover Sign Language (Self-Paced Tutorial)
Discover the fun of learning sign language and using your hands to communicate.
Discover Sign Language teaches you how to sign basic phrases and expand to complete sentences and see how to put it all together, so you can introduce yourself and start a conversation. Along the way you will learn signs for colors, numbers, where you live, family, and the activities you like to do and even the ones you don’t.
Throughout the course you will learn by watching videos that demonstrate how to make the signs and how to incorporate facial expressions to communicate in this beautiful language. This course is taught using the best practices of the industry with a minimum of audio support. Throughout, you will be immersed in silence, so you will gain an understanding of the perspective of Deaf people and sign language.
You will also gain an introduction to the world of the Deaf culture and explore topics such as lipreading, baby signs, and the career of interpreting. By the end of the course, when you meet a Deaf person, you will be ready to sign!
- This course can be taken on either a PC or Mac device.
- PC: Windows 8 or newer.
- Mac: OS X Snow Leopard 10.6 or later.
- Browser: The latest version of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox are preferred. Microsoft Edge and Safari are also compatible.
- Adobe Acrobat Reader.
- Software must be installed and fully operational before the course begins.
- Email capabilities and access to a personal email account.
1 Getting Started
What is sign language? Is it a real language? How did it develop? In this lesson, you will discover what sign language is and who uses it. This lesson introduces American Sign Language and a basic approach to learning it — signing the numbers 0 to 15.
Master your ABCs as you learn how to fingerspell the alphabet. You will discover how double letters are made when they're inside a word and how they're signed when they fall at the beginning and end of words. You will also learn tips on how to read fingerspelling.
3 Introducing Yourself
How do you do? Today, you will take the first steps toward having a conversation as you learn how to introduce yourself. In addition to learning the basic signs for this kind of interaction, you will also gain some more strategies for learning and understanding new signs, including the four aspects that make up each sign. While you add these skills to your signing arsenal, you will also learn more about the Deaf community, including what Deaf people expect to learn about you when you meet for the first time, and the role facial expression plays in sign language.
4 Getting to Know You
Next, you will build on the introduction you learned in the last lesson and see how to keep the conversation going. You will explore the different customs of conversation in the Deaf community, such as how to know when one person is finished talking and how to take turns. In addition, you will continue to navigate your introduction by adding more information about yourself. Finally, you will gain some additional vocabulary as you learn the signs for colors and numbers 16 to 30.
5 Continuing the Conversation
Today, you will learn more signs to help you continue the conversation you started in the two previous lessons. You will learn about the cherished custom Deaf people have of giving name signs, so you will understand what to call yourself, your city, and your state. You will also gain more vocabulary about objects in your living environment. You will learn to sign the types of dwellings people live in and modes of transportation. In addition, you will add to your knowledge of numbers by mastering the signs for numbers 31 to 66. This lesson closes with a discussion about an important issue in the Deaf community: whether deafness is considered a disability.
6 Talking About Family
Signing becomes a family affair as you learn signs for family members. You will understand how sign language categorizes the signs for each gender and communication in families with a Deaf person. This includes lipreading and other communication strategies. This lesson closes with the signs for numbers 67 to 100.
7 Extended Family and Beyond
This lesson focuses on signs for extended family members. You will also learn signs to describe how you're related to them. Start to put together longer sentences to practice using your new vocabulary. You will be introduced to number systems beginning with age and telling how old family members are.
8 A Sign for the Times
What time is it? Today, you will discover how to tell time as well as sign the days of the week and other time periods such as minutes and hours. This lesson focuses on how spoken languages handle past, present, and future tenses, and then examine how sign language does this. Finally, you will discover the impact of the "Deaf President Now" movement had on the lives of Deaf people.
9 More Time on Your Hands
This lesson teaches signs for additional time frames such as yesterday, today, and tomorrow. You will learn signs for indoor and outdoor activities. Then, you will learn signs for your opinion, so you can explain which activities you like and don't like. You will also learn about CODAs—a group of hearing people unique to the Deaf community.
10 Feelings and Traits
Now it's time to learn the signs for feelings and personality traits, and you will combine these signs with signs learned in previous lessons. You will see how to communicate how you're doing, how to ask how others are doing, and how to describe different personal attributes. You will also learn more about Deaf culture—this time, about physical contact and getting the attention of a Deaf person both nearby and across the room. Finally, you will gain tips for practicing your signs.
11 Clothing and Hairstyle
In the final lesson, you will learn signs for clothing and hairstyles, such as jacket and long hair. You will learn about classifiers and how to use them with the patterns such as stripes. Then you will learn signs for descriptions such as mustache and beard. You will also explore another important aspect of Deaf culture: teaching hearing babies to sign.
12 Food and Animals
The course concludes with a lesson that teaches you to wish a friend happy birthday, offer a birthday treat, and talk about your favorite animal. You will start by learning to sign the months of the year and how to say, "Happy birthday!" You will also learn signs for food and animals. This lesson will cover how English is translated into sign language and the role of the professional sign language interpreter. You will even get some tips on using an interpreter with a Deaf person.