RISD holds classes on campus in the evenings. These classes are free to parents and grandparents of our students. Others pay a nominal fee. Some classes are conducted on-site at RISD in partnership with ASL Academy, a center for sign language learning located in Pawtucket, RI. These classes are also free to our families.
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Here at RISD we encourage parents and family members to learn ASL. Although your child (grandchild) will benefit greatly and appreciate your efforts, family members benefit just as much:
American Sign Language (ASL) is the 4th most studied modern/foreign language at colleges and universities in the U.S., according to the Modern Language Association's statistics. Among hundreds of signed languages around the world, up to two million people use ASL in North America alone -- the 3rd or 4th most used language in the U.S. after Spanish dialects and English.
Bilingualism of any languages (whether signed or spoken) is a great booster for brains. It enriches and enhances your cognitive processes: higher abstract and creative thinking, better problem-solving, greater cognitive flexibility, better listening skills, greater academic achievement, and more! It also promotes cultural awareness, literacy, and other intellectual benefits.
Not just bilingualism, but also bimodalism too. Bimodal, that is using an additional visual-spatial medium, expands your visual-perceptual skills: spatial awareness, mental rotation skill, visual sensitivity, and more!
People simply find it fascinating, beautiful, unique, graceful and/or expressive. The more signers learn ASL, the harder, the more complex, and the more challenging it becomes just like any formal language. But, in the end, it's all worth it as you convey thoughts and ideas clearly and beautifully within your family, and your son/daughter enters into an intimate relationship with you that is empowered by a shared language that is fully accessible to your child. - Adapted from http://www.handspeak.com
Communicating with mom and dad should be a relaxed and easy interaction that fosters the unique bond between parent and child. Research demonstrates repeatedly that parents can be empowered through learning to communicate easily and naturally through visual language with their deaf or hard of hearing children, resulting in a more relaxed and natural communication relationship.