Sign language – whether Signing Exact English or American Sign Language (ASL) — have become an accepted language form in the past 30 years. Hundreds of people each year learn one or the other, or both, either for their work, such as official interpreters, teachers in schools, emergency responders and health care professionals; for their family reasons, such as a deaf or hard-of-hearing relative, or simply because they find it fascinating and want to communicate in a new and interesting way. (Those interested in being Interpreters have to become registered by the Registry for Interpreters for the Deaf, http://rid.org/.)
Many people who are investigating the world of signing wonder which of the two to learn first. ASL is much more widely-used than Exact English, being the language of choice in schools and in the Deaf community itself. English-speaking people who learn ASL first, can easily adapt Exact English as well, so it makes sense to learn ASL first. Exact English simply puts the signs into English word order, which often differs from ASL word order. But that is no different than many foreign spoken languages compare with English.
There are online signing courses that will guide the student through the learning of ASL for all purposes, including social situations. A number of institutions of higher learning recognize ASL as an acceptable subject to satisfy the foreign language requirements for college admissions so, check with the college of your choice to see if you can do so.
Other languages have Signed versions, too, including British, Korean, French and many more. When two deaf people meet who do not sign the same language, they can create symbols and signs of their own, to enable them to communicate effectively very quickly.
If you are searching for an interesting and challenging new endeavor, signing may be just right for you!