There are three major forms of Sign Language currently used in the United States: American Sign (ASL), Pidgin Signed English (PSE), and Signed Exact English (SEE).
American Sign Language (ASL)
ASL is used by many deaf in the United States, thus its use promotes assimilation into the Deaf Community. ASL is a visual language, and speech-reading or listening skills are not needed to learn ASL fluently. Because of its visual nature, ASL is very graphic, and understanding of concepts can be promoted more easily. It has developed over time through usage by deaf individuals and is a free-flowing, natural language. ASL is a language complete in itself. It is not usually written or spoken, but can be translated, just like French or German, to English and vice versa. ASL has it’s own syntax and grammar. It does count as a language credit at University level, because it is a separate language. ASL usually follows the TIME + TOPIC + COMMENT structure.
Pidgin Signed English (PSE) or Signed English
PSE is probably the most widely used communication mode in the United States among deaf and hearing persons who work with them. Many teachers use PSE or Signed English. The vocabulary is drawn from ASL but follows English word order. Words that do not carry information (e.g. to, the, am, etc.) are often dropped, as are the word endings of English (e.g. -ed, -s, -ment, etc.). This means that the signer can easily speak while signing, since it is possible to keep pace with spoken English. It is simpler to learn than ASL or SEE, since one does not need to include all English endings, nor does one to master the structure or idioms of ASL.
Signing Exact English (SEE)
SEE is based upon signs drawn from ASL and expanded with words, prefixes, tenses, and endings to give a clear and complete visual presentation of English. The ASL sign for the concept of “pretty, lovely, beauty, beautiful” and other such synonyms is retained for beauty, initialized with P for pretty, L for lovely, and the suffix -ful is added for beautiful. The child thus has an opportunity to develop an expanded vocabulary. The learning of this English based sign system may be more comfortable for English-speaking parents. Maximum use of residual hearing and speech-reading is encouraged since the signs match the elements of spoken English. SEE encourages the incorporation of ASL features to show intonation visually. SEE does require more signing time that PSE, because of the word endings and prefixes, etc. Over-concentration on signing every word may lead to “colorless” signing.