American Sign Language Background
It’s important to understand that American Sign Language (ASL) is not the only sign language. Similar in how English and Spanish are languages, they are also both unique. American Sign Language happens to be the most widely used of all sign languages. When people refer to ‘sign language’, they often, unknowingly are referring to ASL.
American Sign Language has been around since the 19th century, when American Laurent Clerc and Thomas Gallaudet began teaching American students how to communicate with spoken French.
Although American Sign Language is different from its counterpart in France, the two languages have a great deal of similarities when it comes to vocabulary and structure. American Sign Language uses facial expressions and hand gestures to communicate thoughts and ideas.
The American Deaf community began using American Sign Language when it became apparent that spoken English was too difficult.
Today American Sign Language has barely any regional variations and is used by people around the world who want to communicate with American deaf people. American Sign Language is now the fourth most popular language in the United States, after English, Spanish, and Chinese.
Now American Sign Language is making yet another change to become even more popular than ever before. American Sign Language has taken over social media thanks to American signers taking on TikTok videos by creating American Sign Language videos. They often work for interpreting and translation service companies in the language services industry as Interpreters, and gain exposure while on assignments.
ASL In Pop Culture
The American sign language video craze began thanks to the rise of American singer-songwriter Jacob Sartorius’ music hit ‘Sweatshirt’. American Sign Language interpreters took on the challenge of creating ASL versions of popular songs including ‘Take Me To Church’, ‘Can’t Feel My Face’, and others. American Sign Language interpreters received tons of praise and positive feedback for their videos, which led to American signers creating American Sign Language versions of TikTok.
TikTok is a popular social media app that allows users to create short 15 second videos featuring music and other special effects. It’s essentially the modern version of lip-syncing with American Sign Language. American signers take on TikTok challenges and upload the ASL versions to social media, where other American Sign Language users can watch and comment on their videos. American signers who create good American Sign Language TikTok videos, especially those that communicate a message, gain a following of fans as well as opportunities to perform at American deaf events, American Sign Language conferences, American deaf speed dating events, American deaf sports games, American deaf film festivals, American deaf literary events, American deaf art galleries, American Deaf comedy shows, American deaf poetry readings at night clubs.
TikTok has become the new platform of choice for American Sign Language interpreters to show off their skills while introducing American Sign Language to American people who are hearing.
Thanks to American signers using TikTok, American Sign Language has taken on a new life in American pop culture, allowing the Deaf community to communicate with American people through music and other media. American Sign Language is currently one of the most popular languages in the U.S., behind only English, Spanish and Chinese. American Sign Language interpreters have been performing American sign language versions of American pop songs for decades, but American Sign Language interpretations from TikTok are the new wave in American deaf media.
TikTok's Impact On American Sign Language
The exposure of American Sign Language (ASL) due to TikTok cannot be marginalized. While there are also YouTube ASL ecelebs, TikTok has taken non-industry interpreters and turned them into celebrities. Consider, Cargo Shorts Dad. He has almost 4,000,000 TikTok followers. His short videos feature warm family moments of his family journey through the use of ASL with his daughter.
What's Next For American Sign Language
The people who sign are what make signing special and endearing. Communicating through signing bridges the hearing community with the Deaf community. To understand that both parts of our society benefit is what makes this form of communication something more and more people will use for with value beyond entertainment. After all, Cargo Shorts Dad and his family are positive proof.