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I know that there are several versions of sign languages out there for the deaf, hearing-impaired, and mute individuals (like we have American Sign Language -- ASL:, which must mean we have other dialects of English Sign language, correct?), but how many languages of sign language do we actually have? I understand the need to have different signs for different letters in different languages that don't use the same alphabet so that spellings can be different for their respective native tongue, but... is there an entire new system of sign language for each language?

I know nothing about braille, but was wondering how many different forms of braille there are? Since it's reading letters... I imagine it would have a different system for each alphabet system, right? Or is it more complicated than that?

Please do enlighten me on this. I do feel very ignorant because even though I was born hearing-impaired and wore hearing aids my entire life and gone through speech therapy and had an interest in sign language... I never learned it.

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This question sounds more appropriate for the Linguistics SE. I'll answer it here anyhow.

ASL is based on French Sign Language, the first sign language teacher came from France. AFAIK, the Franch sign language formed spontaneously as soon as there were cities and communities of deaf children. When there is no sign language, but other people who are deaf, the children will spontaneously begin to sign and create a new language. Abroad, many countries got their first language from teacher from the US, so for example Philippine's Sign Language is based on ASL.

These languages have almost no relationship to the speaking communities language. ASL's grammar is more similar to Chinese than to English. But what about fingerspell? Yes, that is one way that English can be encode with your hands. Attempting to write English with your hands is mind-numbingly slow. To communicate at a normal rate, you have to use strategies that prevent 1:1 compatibility with English. This doesn't stop well wishing amateurs from suggesting some sort of "manual English", SEE (Signed Exact English) is one current contender for a "English-fied" sign language.

Regarding dialects of ASL, there are a certain number of Deaf schools. Community differences in signing vary by which school you attended. One famous example is the many regionally different ways to sign Pizza in ASL.

Braille on the otherhand is English. The blind can hear and speak English just fine. So their community is the English speaking community & can read it just fine. For the Deaf community, where ASL is their first language, often they don't learn English as well. This creates a massive cultural war between those who want to force English on the Deaf (at the expense of ASL) and those who favor bilingualism. AFAIK, no one is advocating ASL-only, the Deaf need to deal with the hearing community all the time and it's uncontroversially valuable to be able to understand English, the more fluent the better.

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    This is so very interesting to know! Thank you so much!! So to make sure I understand, are you saying that no other language besides English has a braille system? Only in English-speaking countries? Nov 12 '16 at 23:12
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    Brailing is just letters, one to one matching between letters and brail symbols. It's used in England. Article says only a fraction of the blind use it because people go blind when they are old and less inclined to learn braille. bbc.com/news/magazine-16984742 Nov 16 '16 at 19:13

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