American & Canadian Sign Languages Compared

Being both in North America, and sharing a border, one would be attempted to think the American Sign Language (ASL) and the Canadian Sign Languages are the same. But apparently that is not the case.

So, if that is not the case, what are the differences between the two sign languages? And do they have any similarities? However, to get this into a proper perspective, especially for a Medical ASL interpreter from the USA working in Canada, maybe the right question ought to be this- is ASL used as an official language in Canada?

ASL was recognized as an official language in Canada in June, 2019. That happened when the Accessible Canada Act was passed. The law recognized the Quebec Sign Language (QSL), the ASL and other indigenous sign languages as acceptable primary languages for communicating to deaf people in the country.

What Are the Differences Between the Two Sign Languages?

Taking it from the fact that every country has its own unique form of language, it would be safe to argue that the type of ASL used in the USA and Canada are not exactly the same. But in Canada the two types of the commonly used sign languages are the ASL and the LSQ- langue des Signes Quebecoise. The former is primarily used within Anglophone communities while the latter is common only among the Anglophone communities.

But when it comes to the type of Sign language for conferences, it is the ASL that is most preferred. Throughout Canada and the rest of the world, the types of sign languages used are specific to every community. So, it cannot be said that the ASL and the Canadian Sign Language are mutually intelligible or universal in both countries.

In Canada, ASL is regarded as the mother tongue or the first language of many deaf people. That also applies in the USA. In both countries, the deaf community talk, interact, and share their experiences using ASL.

Besides, many normal persons in both countries sometimes prefer to use ASL as a second language. Such people use American sign language in education or they are connected in special ways to people in the deaf community.

That might sound far-fetched, but it isn’t. Consider you are normal, but you have a relative, friend, or a colleague with whom you often must talk. Don’t you think the best thing to do would be to learn ASL?

Why is ASL Essential to Deaf People?

This unique language provides essential communication services to the deaf community. That’s particularly important to people such as teachers, students, employers, employees, and the others. For all deaf people, ASL is an important means for efficient daily interaction and communication needs.

Equally, it’s also necessary as an additional or second language to many people who are not deaf. In Canada today, for instance, many people are recognizing the benefits of ASL as an additional second or third language.

They now accept the value of acquiring proficiency in ASL. That makes them to appreciate the culture of the deaf community. In learning institutions, hearing students find it easier to communicate with their deaf counterparts through learning ASL.

That enables them to participate in both ordinary activities plus those extending to the deaf community. Communicators fluent in ASL and any other additional languages have better chances of finding career opportunities involving working with deaf people.

Additionally, increasing the use of ASL among many groups contributes to the creation of a more inclusive community where communication barriers are non-existent. That makes it possible for deaf people to have a wider circle of friends, colleagues, and other citizens to interact with at all levels of society.

In conclusion, it is instructive to say that while it is not easy to estimate the number of people proficient in ASL in both countries, it is worth noting that ASL is an important minority language in North America.