Manually Coded Language

One of the most important thing language does is connect people—when they speak the same language. This applies to those in the deaf culture, deaf people and the deaf community as much as it does to those that can hear. One of the ways that deaf people communicate is by using a "manually coded language," such as the American Sign Language ASL. A manually coded language, typically created by those that can hear, involves the use of physical gestures to imply the grammar of a specific language, or the written word of that language, such as English, German, Spanish or more.

People from other countries that speak another language will use another form of a manually coded language to communicate with the hearing impaired. Each country may have its own manually coded sign language. Anthropologists and linguists believe the first languages were really sign languages and not spoken ones. Even babies learn to first speak with gestures before they begin to vocalize words.

In order for those who are deaf to learn to communicate, it requires a deaf education and the willingness to learn. When those who are born deaf are treated as a normal human being with a special need, then getting a deaf education will be easier for them. It starts with how the people in the homes of deaf people feel about deafness, deaf people, the deaf community and more. The first thing that is important for those that have someone in their lives that is deaf is to understand that deaf people have the same needs, desires and dreams as anyone else does. It takes a solid deaf education for the deaf person, the deaf person's family members and friends to learn to communicate with each other. Learning a manually coded language that combines gestures to form words will help those who can hear communicate with those who cannot.

A manually coded language not only helps deaf people communicate with family members, it helps them communicate with other people with deafness, which can provide a sense of belonging to the deaf community. Everyone needs a place where they feel that they belong, and providing a deaf education for deaf people provides them a starting point that can provide a sense of deaf culture and belonging. Long ago, during medieval times, deaf people were considered somehow lower than a person who could hear. Some people mistakenly considered those with deafness as possessed, needing exorcism. It's hard to believe that people could think that way, but they did. A Benedictine monk from England in the seventh century was the first to suggest a sign language based on Latin to communicate with the hearing impaired. Bede developed this system that helped people understand the hearing impaired.

Every human being alive has the right to communicate with others. In fact, it's necessary to feel good about oneself to have this sense of belonging. Those in the deaf community understand this and are coming together to create their own deaf culture. If you know of someone that is hearing impaired, consider learning to speak his or her language, whatever that may be—you will not only make someone happier, but you might enjoy learning something new as well. Being deaf only means that deaf people can't hear with their ears—it doesn't mean they cannot communicate and hear in other ways.

For more information on the various uses of manually coded languages, please click on any of the links below: