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National ASL Day

APRIL 15 Every Year

April 2015

How ASL became


We in America did not invent:

The Manual Alphabet
Signed Language

Where did it all begin?


1600s Spain
Juan Pablo Bonet
An advocate of early sign language
Adopted the manual alphabet used by monks for use in
teaching the deaf
Wrote the first well-known book of manual alphabetic signs
for the deaf in 1620.


1700s France
Charles Michel De L'Eppe
French priest and the "father of Sign Language and Deaf
Established the first free deaf public school in France (1755).
In 1760 he created a standardized system of signs and
fingerspelling (from the natural signs of deaf children + signs
invented by him)
Wrote "The Instruction of Deaf and Mute Persons Using
Methodological Signs", first book to advocate the use of
natural signs (1776)


1700s England
Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet
traveled to England to learn Oral methods, but Braidwood
(the school director) refused to allow his methods to leave
Gallaudet took the short trip to France, and met Laurent
Clerc, the first Deaf teacher of the Deaf.

Gallaudet takes Clerc

back to America


Marthas Vineyard
Settled by 200 immigrants from Kent County in England
Population carried dominant and recessive genes for
By the mid-1700's a signed language (before ASL) had
developed on the island, used by deaf and hearing
islanders alike.

Marthas Vineyard
Almost all inhabitants signed, and public meetings were
conducted in signed language for all.
Deaf islanders married, had families, worked, voted,
held public office and were equal to hearing islanders.
The birth rate for deaf children
Island = 1 deaf : 155 people
Some villages as high as 1:4 (25%)

1800s America
First School for the Deaf in America
1817 The American Asylum for the Deaf
and Dumb (now The American School for the
Deaf) in Hartford, CT
Deaf children from Marthas Vineyard went to
Hartford to be educated
They brought island signs with them and
influenced LSF as it evolved into ASL.

Sowhat is ASL?
Clercs French Sign Language (LSF)

Gallaudets English

Island Signs (from Marthas Vineyard)


a few generations of standardization


American Sign Language

The 1880 Milan Conference

Early schools for the deaf were mainly signing.
Oral schools gained in popularity.
Governments began to argue as to which was better.
A conference was held in Milan, Italy in 1880 and all in
attendance voted.
Oralism won and American schools for the deaf began to
outlaw signing.
Signing would not make a comeback until the 1960s.

The Father of ASL: George Veditz

Because of the 1880 Milan Conference,
ASL was attacked and started to disappear.
George Veditz wanted to make sure this didnt happen.
Here is a video of his statement to preserve ASL.
(Instructors: you dont have to show the entire video)

ASL Today

ASL facts today:

The fastest-growing foreign language class in the past
20 years isn't foreign at all.
Nor is it spoken.
It's American Sign Language.

ASL facts today:

More college students are now studying American Sign
Language than Chinese and Russian combined.
In 2009, ASL was the fourth-most popular language for
college students to study, falling behind only Spanish,
French, and German.
Now it is the third-most popular. And growing...

Unlimited Resources
(all images are click-enabled to links)

National ASL Day


How we can celebrate!

Class Activity: ASL 1-10 Stories

(15-20 min)
Spring Break
ASL Life
Other ideas?

ASL 1-10 Story Activity

Select a partner or small group
(2 - 4 people)
This can be an individual effort.

ASL 1-10 Story Activity

Write down a number of signs
that can be created
with the handshape 1.

ASL 1-10 Story Activity

Repeat this process for 2 - 10.
(time permitting)
With your handshape lists,
weave together a story
- in order from 1 - 10.

ASL 1-10 Story Activity

Spring Break
ASL Life
Other ideas?

ASL 1-10 Story Activity

You have 10 minutes to list signs
under the number hand shape.


ASL 1-10 Story Activity

You have 5 minutes to thread
your signs into an ASL story.


ASL 1-10 Story Activity

Now show the class your 1 - 10 story,
or what you have completed so far.

Want to show your work?

Share it on ASL Days Facebook Page

ASL Future

ASL facts today:

ASL & English
Working together
to create signing communities
bridging Deaf and hearing
Sample Video

Wrap Up Quiz
Kahoot Quiz