Gráfico circular dividido en porciones de varios tamaños.

A Few Good Reasons to Learn Sign Language

An artist explores through the lens of personal relationships

More than 90 percent of Deaf and hard-of-hearing babies are born to hearing parents, and few of them can meaningfully sign with their families. My parents learned sign language for me and my sister. My partner learned it for me. Yet many people do not realize how dire the consequences of language deprivation are for Deaf babies and children. I am now in my forties and witnessing firsthand the toll it has taken on Deaf peers’ mental health. On top of that, there is very limited access to education, entertainment, and resources. How does one expect us to fully participate in an anti–sign language society and still smile?

disability pride was searched worldwide over 3x more in 2021 than in 2020, hitting a new all-time high.

Infographics function much like body language, sharing ideas across languages and cultures. My work uses charts to communicate urgency, frivolousness, or humor. In this case, I wanted to explore the human reasoning for learning signed languages rather than spoken. I am conscious of how my identity is political, so I further politicized my relationship with people in my life by making these drawings.

I’ve seen how much attention sign language has attracted in the past ten years: Deaf roles in movies, demand for sign language classes in schools, and visible press conference interpreters. I am feeling somewhat optimistic that people are growing less anti–sign language and are seeing that Deaf identity is one huge, beautiful spectrum. I hope we’re going in a direction where more of us will tell our own stories without being filtered through a hearing lens.

Gráfico circular dividido en porciones de varios tamaños.

Why My Hearing Parents Sign

Left (top to bottom):

So they can tell me family secrets (they don’t)

So they can chat with my Deaf friends

So we can argue effectively and frequently

Hearing aids didn’t work well

Chatting while stuffing our faces with kimchi

To make sure I feel loved

My sister is also Deaf

Language deprivation is real

Right (top to bottom):

They’re cooler than your parents

FOB and no one (at home) to practice speaking English with

Gráfico circular dividido en porciones de varios tamaños.

Why My Hearing Partner Signs

Left (top to bottom):

So I can get unsolicited comments from strangers about how utterly romantic that is

If you wanna be my lover…

See “Why I don’t read lips” pie chart

His sister-in-law doesn’t read lips either

Right (top to bottom):

Free interpreting service for me (no shame)

Yeah sex is cool but have you ever signed with someone through the window of a restaurant in Beijing while they are balancing tea on their sleeping baby’s head? That.

This year, the U.S. and the world searched love you in sign language more than ever before.

Christine Sun Kim


Christine Sun Kim is an American artist based in Berlin. Working predominantly in drawing, performance, and video, Kim’s practice considers how sound operates in society, deconstructing the politics of sound, and exploring oral languages as social currency. She is represented by François Ghebaly Gallery in Los Angeles and White Space Beijing in Beijing.