Sign language is a beneficial life skill

As a life skill, sign language can build bridges and open doors for youth.

Do you want to learn about the benefit of a certain life skill that can be utilized in various ways? According to Michigan State University Extension, “Michigan 4-H Youth Development is committed to providing children aged 5 to 19 with opportunities through 4-H that will give them skills they can use for a lifetime.” A life skill that can be used for a lifetime is sign language.

From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a definition of sign language is a formal language employing a system of hand gestures for communication, as by the deaf. As this form of communication is used by people who are deaf, there are many benefits of learning and using sign language.

First, this skill is used as a bridge of communication to the deaf culture. Along with communicating with the deaf, a person is able to learn about this culture and their lifestyle. For example, in an article by Paul Fugate on Teachers.Net Gazette, some good questions are stated to allow a person to learn how a deaf person answers the phone, know when there is a knock at the door and how a deaf person communicates with those who are hearing.

Sign language is also a career skill. As a career skill, it is used to translate and communicate. Here are also some career areas for sign language from About.com: education, government, health, interpreting, recreation, social services, teaching and therapy. Also, as a career skill, sign language is not only used to communicate with the deaf, it is used to communicate in noisy settings as E-How mentions certain career fields like firefighters and stock traders.

Let’s break it down to three C’s for the benefits of sign language as a career skill: communication, culture and career. As Michigan 4-H volunteers or youth development workers, find ways to introduce youth to learn about this skill. To start off, as a group activity, have 4-H members or youth participants conduct research on the local agencies and services that provide resources or lessons on learning sign language. Make efforts to partner with the agencies and services to set up some type of tutorial to teach members in the club or group this beneficial skill.

Finally, encourage members in your club or group to take advantage of sign language classes available in their school or community. This is a skill that can be utilized in different phases of life.

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