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ASL Facts

ASL Facts

The Three Sign Language Systems:
  • Manual English - used to teach deaf children English, there is one sign for every word.
  • Signed English - take ASL signs and put them into English word order. Often used between a hearing and a deaf person.
American Sign Language (ASL) - true language of the Deaf community. There is no written form of ASL and no words. Closest to Chinese.

Important People:

Lou Fant - coined the term ASL
Thomas Gallaudet - first teacher of the Deaf, opened the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut
William Stoke - proved ASL is a real language
Alice Cogswell - first student of Thomas Gallaudet
Laurent Clerc - co-founded the American School for the Deaf with Gallaudet
Alexander Graham Bell - had a deaf wife; invented the telephone
I King Jordan - first deaf president of Gallaudet University

School Systems:

Mainstream - a school where the Deaf student goes to public school with a translator, most of the other students aren't deaf. Example: Sprague High School
Residential - the Deaf student lives at the school in a Dorm and goes home on the weekends. Example: Oregon School for the Deaf
Day School - Deaf student goes to school Monday-Friday and goes home afterward everyday, like a normal school; all students are deaf. Example: Phoenix Day School for the Deaf


American School for the Deaf - the first deaf school open in the U.S., located in Hartford, Connecticut. Founded by William Stoke and Laurent Clerc in the late 1800s.
Gallaudet University - the only Liberal Arts college for the Deaf
OSD - Oregon School for the Deaf
Western Oregon University - the number one college program in the Pacific northwest for ASL. Does interpreting, teaching, and counseling the deaf.

Four Characteristics of a Sign:

Handshape (Example: Open 5, Closed 5)
Location (Where the sign is)
Orientation (positioning of the hand)
Movement (motion of a sign)

Five Aspects of Deaf culture:


Three Dimensions of ASL:


All Signs Fall into Two Categories:

Iconic - means you can probably figure out what the sign means just by looking at it. (Examples: "drive" or "break")
Symbolic - means you see the sign, but you probably don't know what it means by looking at it. (Examples: "early" or "physics")

Directional Verbs:

Directional verb - verbs that move; if you change the movement, you change the meaning of it.
Four Aspects of a Directional Verb:
Source - where the sign starts
Goal - where the sign ends
Subject - the receiver of the sign
Object - the signer of the sign

Non-manuals: A non-manual is like an expression, you use it at certain, particular times.

Yes/No Question - Raise the eyes, tilt the head
Information Seeking Question - Squint the eyes, tilt the head
CS (like the sound that CS makes) - Close distance, close time
Shake head - Form of negation
Nod head - Form of "yes", or happy things in general
Eye contact - Recognize someone; you want to talk to them
Puff cheeks - Also referred to as "pah" (like the noise); shows a far distance or "a lot"
Body shift - shows two different people talking
Vertical eye gaze - shows a difference in status or height between two people
To show intensity - squeeze eyebrows, purse the lips tightly; emphasis (hold the sign or pause)

Deaf Organizations:

NAD - National Association for the Deaf, the largest and most powerful political organization for the Deaf.
OAD - Oregon Association of the Deaf, the largest political assocation for the Deaf in Oregon.
NTID - National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, New York. Best math/science school for the Deaf.
RID - Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, the biggest organization of interpreters.

Hearing Loss:

Decibels (dB) - unit used to measure sound
0 to 15 dB loss - Normal
15 to 40 dB loss (roughly) - Mild (considered to be "hard of hearing")
40 to 60 dB loss (roughly) - Moderate (considered to be "hard of hearing")
60 to 80 dB loss (roughly) - Severe (considered to be "hard of hearing")
90+ dB loss - Profoundly Deaf

Types of Hearing Loss:

Conductive Hearing Loss - damage to the outer or middle ear, it can be repaired and fixed.
Sensori-neural Hearing Loss - there is damage in the inner ear, more specifically the cochlea or the nerves. It is a permanent loss, unless you get a cochlea implant.

Other Facts:

English Gloss - a way to represent ASL on paper. Use English words to represent ASL signs in all capital letters.
TDD (Telecommunications device for the deaf) - communication device used by deaf people to talk on the phone (looks like a typewriter).
Closest spoken language to ASL: Chinese
ASL came from France
Referent - a spot in your signing space to show where a person or an object is
Dominant hand - the hand you use for most of your signing
Agent sign - used to change a verb to a noun (Example: if you sign the word "manage", and then put the agent sign after, the sign meaning changes from "manage" to "manager")
Audiologist - tests your hearing and provides people with hearing aides
Audiogram - a graph of someone's hearing loss
Linguists - people who study languages. They've found 18 handshapes, 24 movements, and 12 locations when studying the signs used in ASL
35 states have accepted ASL as a foreign language
Access - learning ASL is all about access