Spotlight on Sign Language Today


Due to current events, sign language has come into public debate. Signing is not something new, and each country or world region has its own sign language. I think many of us are well aware of the amazing life of Helen Keller. However, recently there have been some other figures that have come into the spotlight drawing attention to signing and what it means to the general public today.

In recent news, a lot of attention has come down on the notorious interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service. This interpreter with a questionable past and who suffers from mental illness signed gibberish as world speakers took the stage to pay homage to a great leader. Oscar-winning Deaf actress Marlee Matlin did give a positive spin to this though and tweeted, “Sign went global today.”

And speaking of Matlin, she regularly stars in a popular and award-winning television series, Switched at Birth. The show has been on the air since 2011 and already has gone through 3 seasons, with more to come. While the show tends to be a drama, it sheds light on the different aspects of the Deaf community in the U.S. The show not only portrays the everyday life of the Deaf but also how the mainstream hearing world reacts and is involved. There is even an entire episode in which the only form of communication involved is American Sign Language. Pushing all the teenage drama aside, I find the show very interesting as it allows me a view of a community with which I have had little interaction, and I’ve learned a thing or two.

This past year there have also been a few heartwarming videos where signing is involved that have gone viral. In one, a 5-year-old girl is seen signing to her Deaf parents during her kindergarten holiday pageant. While she was singing seasonal songs along with her classmates, she was interpreting in sign language to her parents in the audience. It is certainly very touching watching this excited little girl sign and sing away!

It is quite interesting to see how signing has come more into the spotlight recently. I look forward to a future where signing is well-represented and accessible. At Trusted Translations, we offer interpretation services for ASL. Find out more here.