During a rest stop on a road trip this past weekend, I glimpsed some hands moving across the room. When I looked up, my eyes fell on five or six deaf guys sitting at a table, signing animatedly to each other. A few tables down from them, another group sat, also signing. Immediately my heart leapt - as it always does, at seeing sign language used so fluidly and openly. But, of course, both groups were conversing in British Sign Language, which is completely different from ASL.
Oh. That's right, this is the UK.
If it had been ASL, I reckon I would have approached and struck up a conversation. But BSL was completely foreign to me. The facial expressions were natural and similar to ASL, and some of the gestures seemed intuitive enough. (Ha, my hearing friends are always demanding that I explain, "Why do you sign ___ this way? It doesn't make sense!" - yet this was exactly what I found myself doing yesterday.) As I watched, I realized that this was the first time I'd seen a group of deaf people since getting my CI, and I couldn't even understand them. How strange that felt. I'm far too used to having the meaning of speech evade me - but never, never sign.
That said, I've started learning the BSL alphabet (which seems ridiculous - a two-handed alphabet, really?) and hopefully will make some progress soon...