Speech pathologist Jill Eversmann demonstrates various words using sing language during a class held July 21, 2022. The class was hosted by Army Community Service’s Exceptional Family Member Program. (Courtesy Photo)

Using American Sign Language to Communicate

By Allitra Williams, Exceptional Family Member Program

On July 21, 2022, Army Community Service’s Exceptional Family Member Program hosted a “Using Sign Language with Children Aged Birth-3 and Beyond” workshop. The 90-minute workshop lead by speech pathologist Jill Eversmann focused on beginning signs that individuals can use to communicate.

Communication has always been essential in society. Without communication, relationships of all types cannot be cultivated. Without the ability to express desires, wants, and information to one another can be utterly frustrating. So, what exactly is communication? I believe the dictionary of Merriam Webster states it best, “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.” Let’s make it a little simpler … an exchange of information or personal rapport.

As simple as this definition may be for communication, it is not that simple for all individuals to communicate. Many people are born with disabilities that bring barriers to communication. Disabilities such as hearing disorders, voice problems, speech issues, and developmental and learning disabilities may create limitations, but it does not mean the individual cannot learn to communicate.

American Sign Language was originated in the early 19th century and has helped to build the bridge to communication with individuals with disabilities. ASL is one of many ways to communicate using signs, symbols, and behaviors. ASL has even become popular to communicate with infants without disabilities that have yet to begin talking with their voice. Learning individual signs can be easy to learn with the use of hand movements and gestures.

Army Community Service Exceptional Family Member Program understands the challenges that can come with a non-verbal exceptional family member. It is important to know that even when things are challenging there are resources available to assist Families through these challenges.

For additional information and support services, contact the Fort Jackson ACS EFMP staff at 751-5256. The EFMP System Navigator can assist with conducting Family assessments for setting goals for EFMs to include learning ASL and navigating the healthcare system.