I am sure you’ve already seen Rhianna’s interpreter during her halftime performance in the recent Super Bowl. We love her, and the whole world appreciates her swag.
View this post on Instagram
My brother was deaf, and I learned to sign because of him. It opened a lot of opportunities for me, so I thought of sharing with you a few reasons why it’s important for everyone, including businesses, to learn how to sign.
But first, a little about sign language.
There are two kinds of sign language:
- ASL or American Sign Language
- FSL or Filipino Sign Language
ASL (American Sign Language) and FSL (Filipino Sign Language) are two different sign languages that are used in different countries. ASL is primarily used in the United States and Canada, while FSL is used in the Philippines.
While both ASL and FSL use signs to convey meaning, their grammar, syntax, and vocabulary are different. ASL is a distinct language with its own grammatical rules and structure, while FSL is also a unique language that has its own syntax and grammar.
Additionally, the two sign languages use different signs to convey the same concepts or ideas. For example, the “hello” sign in ASL differs from the “hello” sign in FSL.
You can, however, sign it per letter, like in the photo above.
Benefits and Reasons for Learning Sign Language
Sign language enables you to communicate with the deaf and mute community. You can converse, share ideas, and build relationships. Having more people know sign could also help boost their morale as they would feel more welcome and accepted in the speaking community.
Learning sign language is a human rights issue. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes the right to use sign language as a fundamental human right. By learning sign language, you are supporting the human rights of the deaf community. In fact, we have a law, Republic Act 11106, also known as The Filipino Sign Language Act, which promotes FSL as the official communication for the Filipino deaf community.
It sends a message to the deaf community that they are valued and respected. It creates an inclusive environment where everyone can participate and contribute. Inclusivity is essential for building a more cohesive and tolerant society.
Learning sign language promotes inclusivity in the workplace. Actually, I call it the #deafinition of inclusivity. It enables employers to communicate with deaf and hard-of-hearing employees and customers. It also creates a more diverse and inclusive workplace that values all employees. The WhenInManila team has been an advocate ever since. In fact, we produced a video of them with Best Buddies Philippines and the College of Saint Benilde community.
3. Professional Development
It can boost your professional development. Many industries now require professionals to have basic sign language skills. For example, healthcare professionals, educators, and social workers often interact with the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Having sign language skills can give you a competitive advantage in the job market.
4. Cultural Awareness
It helps you develop cultural awareness. It exposes you to a different way of life, beliefs, and values. It expands your worldview and makes you more tolerant and accepting of different cultures.
5. Cognitive Benefits
Did you know that signing has cognitive benefits? It improves memory, spatial skills, and multitasking abilities. It also enhances brain plasticity, which is the brain’s ability to change and adapt to new information.
6. Personal Development
This can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience. It can boost your confidence, self-esteem, and personal growth. It can also help you develop empathy, patience, and understanding.
It enables the deaf and hard-of-hearing community to access information, services, and resources. It removes communication barriers and makes the world more accessible to everyone.
8. Social Benefits and Improves Customer service
It connects you with a new community and expands your social network. It also helps you build relationships based on mutual respect and understanding.
Learning sign language can also improve customer service. It enables businesses to communicate effectively with deaf and hard-of-hearing customers. It also sends a message to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community that their needs and preferences are valued.
Some inclusive local companies:
- Jollibee is one popular fast-food chain in the Philippines that has made efforts to cater to the deaf community. They have introduced a sign language menu, which displays images of the menu items alongside their corresponding signs, making it easier for deaf customers to place orders.
- Grab is a ride-hailing company that offers an option for deaf or hard-of-hearing drivers. They also have a dedicated customer support team that is trained in sign language, allowing deaf customers to communicate their concerns or issues more easily.
- SM Supermalls: A popular shopping mall chain in the Philippines, SM offers a variety of services for deaf and hard-of-hearing customers. This includes a sign language interpretation service for events and activities and visual aids such as closed captions and descriptive audio in cinemas.
- Philippine Airlines: The flag carrier of the Philippines has provided deaf passengers with a special safety video that includes sign language interpretation.
- McDonald’s: This fast-food chain has made its menu more accessible for deaf customers by including images of the menu items with corresponding signs. They have also trained some of their staff in sign language to improve communication with deaf customers.
This is your sign!
Investing in learning sign language is crucial for businesses that want to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all customers. It can improve customer service, boost sales, and enhance the business’s public image. By offering sign language training to employees, businesses can also foster a culture of inclusivity and diversity. Join the movement towards a more accessible society by understanding the importance of sign language today.
Do you know how to sign? Or are you aware of other companies that are inclusive? Let us know in the comments below.