By THL Gytha Oggsdottir, Kingdom Silent Herald.
If it’s a Silent Herald, what she or he is doing is translating what is happening in court into American Sign Language (ASL). How much he or she translates depends on the amount of sign that herald knows. Why she or he translates is for many reasons:
- Our society is getting older. More and more of us are losing some to all of our hearing.
- Acoustics in many halls are terrible. How often are you in the back of the hall and can’t hear what is being said in court?
- We want our dream to be accessible to all.
But what if you are hard of hearing or sitting in the back of court and you do not know sign language?
Luckily, ASL is a very expressive language and many signs are similar to gestures you would use to explain something. Even not knowing sign, many people can gain a better concept of what is happening in court by watching a Silent Herald. I am often approached by people who say they do not know sign, yet my presence as a Silent Herald made court more understandable.
I cannot count how many times people have told me that they wish they knew sign language. I am also approached by people who do know some sign but do not feel like they know enough to become a Silent Herald themselves. This made me start thinking about how I could help spread the knowledge to others. I started teaching at scholas and academies, but that was clearly not filling the need.
I then came up with the idea of a sign-a-day Facebook group and created it. (Æthelmearc Sign A Day) The concept behind it was that it was a place where I would post a link to a video each day showing a sign. I would start with signs that the Society created for ourselves, then move to signs specific to Æthelmearc, and finally move to signs that are used often in court. In this manner people could get exposure to the signs that are used by Silent Heralds.
My hope is through this Facebook group that more people will learn ASL. That more people will understand what Silent Heralds are signing. And perhaps that one or two will be willing through the knowledge gained to stand in the front and sign themselves.