Pt. 2: ASL and Total Communication

[This article is the second in an ongoing series about the history and implementation of American Sign Language (ASL) for Deaf and hearing populations.]

ASL is a unique and rich language with more than 200 years of history. While ASL is primarily the language of the Deaf community in the U.S. and Canada, it is also a wonderful resource for hearing populations, as well.

Why would a person with typical hearing ever need to use ASL? Apart from communicating with members of the Deaf community, ASL provides a nonverbal medium of communication for children and adults who are developing or working towards multiple communication strategies, which may or may not include verbal speech.

Total communication is a language approach that emphasizes using multiple modes of communication, including ASL, verbal speech, auditory, and/or visual/written supports as needed to best meet the needs of individual speakers. Total communication is not a one-size-fits-all approach; rather, it tailors the vast array of communication modalities and possibilities to each individual. This philosophy of communication emphasizes that communication modes should be fitted to each person, not each person fitting to one communication mode. As part of the wide array of strategies, ASL is an invaluable tool in the total communication approach.

Want to learn more about total communication and ASL? Reach out to a Sidekick therapist today!