If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. –Nelson Mandela
Recently I was told by a friend that they “would not spend all that time to learn ASL, because pen and paper worked just fine to talk to deaf people” this kind of upset me because I spend a good amount of time learning ASL and Deaf coulter. This felt like a direct attack on what I am doing with my life. My goal is to be certified with RID as an interpreter for the justice system. After the feeling of anger went away I started considering what was said to me. Here are a few questions that I asked myself:
Does pen and paper work just fine?
Is ASL really worth years of studying?
How should I answer someone when they say this?
After thinking this over for a few days this quote came to mind: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language that goes to his heart.”
Pen and Paper is an option it’s just not the best option. Yes those who are deaf can read English and yes your general ideas can get a crossed but there is no way you can have a meaning full conversation with someone setting a crossed from you if all you are doing is writing some notes down on a napkin or a note pad. Is this how you would want to talk to someone about; a death, a birth, a wedding, a fire, the meaning of life? Is pen and paper really the way you want to ask someone if they are alright when you see them crying? When I talked to a friend of mine about this they pointed out that asking someone who is deaf to write out everything with a pen and paper is like asking someone who speaks Portuguese to talk to you in Spanish. If there is no other option pen and paper works but it is not the best way to talk to someone setting a crossed from you in need.
Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.❞‒Rita Mae Brown Is ASL worth the time? To me this question is like asking are Deaf people worth getting to know. I have meet a few wonderful deaf people from around the world and I want to get to know them better. The only way I will ever be able to really get to know them is by talking with them in their language and there culture. Is ASL worth it? Yes, for me ASL is diffidently worth the work.
Next time I am faced with the view that “pen and paper works just fine” I will respond with “I want to speak to a man’s heart” and Remember that I do feel Deaf people are worth the time, and ASL is the best way to speak to their hearts.
AS a side note, besides ASL being the best way to communicate with someone who cannot hear it is also a beautiful language.