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What is ASL
Before beginning an online American Sign Language certification class, it is helpful to have background knowledge of ASL and its beginnings.
ASL, or American Sign Language, is the manual language used by our deaf community for communication. Manual signing has been around throughout human history, and commonly used among native American Indians to communicate to tribes who spoke different languages. Manual signing, interestingly, was discouraged by individuals such as Alexander Graham Bell in the early twentieth century. It was believed to and make it more difficult for deaf individuals to interact with the hearing community. Deaf students were expected to learn to vocalize words, and read lips. This theory was debunked, thankfully, by William Stokoe in 1955.1
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Why Learn American Sign Language
Manual signing is easier for babies to use to communicate their needs. Many parents are now teaching their little ones to sign.2 It is difficult to estimate exactly how many Americans are deaf or hard-of-hearing, but there were approximately 28 million, according to an article published in 2006 entitled The Deaf-World.3 This would includes older individuals who many utilize hearing aids, as well as children and adults who actively communicate with ASL. In any job where you are interacting with the social world, be it a school, a hospital, a daycare center, it makes us useful as employees when we are better equipped to communicate with individuals with special needs. The more you know, the more opportunities you create for yourself, so why not take an online American sign language certification class?
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Where to Find Opportunities to Learn
Thankfully, you have several options to choose from. Signing Online offers four courses in American Sign Language online, for $49.95 each. When you complete a course you will receive a certificate of completion. For educators or nurses who are seeking continuing education units or credits, each course will translate into 1.5 CEUs for educators, and 18 CEs per course for nurses. These credits are issued by Michigan State University.4 Michigan State University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission.5
Another great place to take an ASL online certification class is Sacramento State College of Continuing Education. Sacramento State College is accredited by the Western Association of Schools, Accrediting Commision for Senior Colleges and Universities.5 Through Sacramento State, you can achieve American sign language certification by taking four classes, and accumulating the required 14 unit credits. The residential fee for attending Cal State's Sacramento State College, for taking 0-6 units is $1,167. For non-residents, tuition is $372 per unit. Sacramento State also has a payment installment plan to make paying tuition easier for students.6
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Types of Jobs Available for Those with ASL Certification
After completing an online American Sign Language certification class you may find that it will help you in any social field you choose to pursue. Some who have sought ASL certification are actually employed as interpreters, or translators. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Wage and salary interpreters and translators had median hourly wages of $38,850 in May 2008." 7 This is a satisfactory wage by many peoples standards, but wages alone do not create satisfaction in one's job. Being able to bridge the communication gap between the hearing and non-hearing is a very satisfying role for individuals who want to work with people with special needs.
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1 American Sign Language (n.d.) In Wikipedia. Retrieved December 25, 2009 from Wikipedia website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Sign_Language
2 Gibson, K.M. (2007) American Sign Language (ASL) for Hearing Toddlers and Children. Retrieved December 25, 2009 from Leaping From the Box website: http://www.leapingfromthebox.com/art/kmg/americansignlanguage.html
3 The Deaf World (2006). Retrieved December 25, 2009, from DAWNSIGNPRESS website: http://www.dawnsign.com/journey/index.html
4 Retrieved December 25, 2009 from Signing Online course page, from Signing Online website.
5 Retrieved December 25, 2009 from Department of Education Website: http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/InstAccrDetails.aspx?756e697469643d3132323834332663616d70757349643d30267264743d312f322f3230313020313a35373a313520414d, http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/InstAccrDetails.aspx?756e697469643d3130333030362663616d70757349643d30267264743d312f322f3230313020323a30383a333320414d
6 Retrieved December 26, 2009 from Sacramento State College website.
7 Retrieved December 26, 2009 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics website: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos175.htm#earnings