Visual Language : American Sign Language/English as a Second Language (ASL/ESL) or Bilingual/Bicultural (Bi/Bi)
American Sign Language (ASL) is a visual language with its own grammar. ASL is not based on English grammar. ASL uses space, direction, speed of movement, and facial expression to mark grammar and convey meaning. ASL has no written form and is not used simultaneously with spoken English. Fingerspelling (use of a manual alphabet to spell words) is actively integrated into ASL for proper names and other terms for which there are no generally accepted signs. American Sign Language and English, (a bilingual approach) supports development of ASL as a child’s first language with development of English as a second language through reading, writing, and spoken language and other visual representations of spoken language.
Exposure to ongoing fluent ASL models (Deaf Adults and native ASL users) is considered integral to the success of this approach.
Therapists and Deaf Mentors working with families are able to provide instruction and support to learn ASL.
The child and family need access to Deaf adults who are fluent in ASL and intensive exposure to American Sign Language is needed to immerse the child in language.
Supporters of ASL believe that visual language development is crucial to a deaf child’s language, cognitive, social, and emotional growth. This approach supports ASL as a valid and valuable language that has proven successful for developing an avenue for communication, life success, and literacy development for many Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals. In addition, the belief that a child can most easily learn language visually through ASL, and then use ASL to learn English. Supporters of this approach understand that deaf children have a wide variety of
potential regarding auditory and speech skill development. They believe that development of auditory and speech skills will hold a different importance for each child and their family.