"There are more than 500,000 words in the English language, but a person who masters only 250 words will recognize more than two-thirds of all words shown in television captions—provided the 250 words are those that are most frequently used. Equally dramatic, a beginning reader could be taught just 10 words—the, you, to, a, I, and, of, in, it, that—and then recognize more than one out of every five words. Mastery of the top 79 words means being able to read half of all words captioned." Source: Perspectives in Education and Deafness, Volume 16, Number 1, September/October 1997
I was reading this on an ASL website today and it really struck a chord with me. I was trying to assist a hearing impaired customer the other day and I felt awful that I couldn't remember my signs for her. Thankfully, I was able to give her directions and I was able to understand what she was saying to me. The bad part is that I can read sign (sort of), but responding is very difficult for me. I took an ASL course in college and probably would have enjoyed it more had the teacher not had a propensity for meanness because she was deaf. She is what I would call a deaf person with a chip on her shoulder. She definitely felt like she was entitle to be rude because she was deaf and that hearing people aren't worthy of her knowledge. I liked the design of the course because it is a very involved kind of learning. Given the chance to do it again, I would absolutely try harder and become more involved in the deaf community. I really want to be able to communicate more effectively with the deaf customers that come to the store and I think I'm going to teach myself signs again. I always failed at fingerspelling, but I'm going to practice to and from work while in the car. That suggestion from my ASL class has always stuck with me, so I'll try it to become more adept at it. But for now, try thiswebsite as a great resource to begin learning a little ASL.
In the mean time you can try to figure out a sign name for yourself. To be a true sign name it should actually be given to you by somebody who is deaf. I'm lucky because I have been given one! It's a combination of the sign for beautiful and the letter of my first name. Isn't that sweet?