ASL

American Sign Language


American Sign Language (ASL) is a complete, complex language that employs signs made with the hands and other movements, including facial expressions and postures of the body. It is the first language of many deaf North Americans, and one of several communication options available to deaf people. ASL is said to be the fourth most commonly used language in the United States. No one form of sign language is universal. For example, British Sign Language (BSL) differs notably from ASL. Different sign languages are used in different countries or regions.

The exact beginnings of ASL are not clear. Many people believe that ASL came mostly from French Sign Language (FSL). Others claim that the foundation for ASL existed before FSL was introduced in America in 1817. It was in that year that a French teacher named Laurent Clerc, brought to the United States by Thomas Gallaudet, founded the first school for the deaf in Hartford, Connecticut. Clerc began teaching FSL to Americans, though many of his students were already fluent in their own forms of local, natural sign language. Today's ASL likely contains some of this early American signing. Which language had more to do with the formation of modern ASL is difficult to prove. Modern ASL and FSL share some elements, including a substantial amount of vocabulary. However, they are not mutually comprehensible.

Parents should introduce deaf children to language as early as possible. The earlier any child is exposed to and begins to acquire language, the better that child's communication skills will become. Research suggests that the first six months are the most crucial to a child's development of language skills. All newborns should be screened for deafness or hearing loss before they leave the hospital or within the first month of life. Very early discovery of a child's hearing loss or deafness provides parents with an opportunity to learn about communication options. Parents can then start their child's language learning process during this important stage of development. - NIDCD

 

ASL Alphabet


 

ASL Numbers


Links & Resources


 

Staff


Talia Chapman-Martin

Education Specialist: Deaf and Hard of Hearing

techapma@egusd.net


ShaRay Lawand

American Sign Language Interpreter

slawand@egusd.net


Kim Jones

American Sign Language Interpreter

kjones@egusd.net


Stella Gonzalez

American Sign Language Interpreter

sgonzaab@egusd.net


Andrea Atkinson

American Sign Language Interpreter

aatkinso@egusd.net

 
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