what is ASL?

American Sign Language (ASL) is not a signed version of English. It is derivative of French sign language, and there is a different sign language for each spoken language.

There are 5 components to a sign:
1. Handshape 2. Palm Orientation 3. Location 4. Movement 5. Nonmanual features or signals (involves movements of the head, mouth, or eyebrows)

Did you know that from 1880 to 1960, American Sign Language was suppressed In the schools and went underground? It resurfaced once statistics showed that the suppression of sign language was detrimental to learning for the Deaf. Learn more by interacting with the Deaf History Timeline


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asl poetry?


asl poetry

ASL POETRY is a vibrant three-dimensional art form where body movements convey meaning. There is no paper or text. Rhymes are measured in hand shapes and meter in movements. Images cut and dissolve as its verses transcend all spoken word. In relation to literary poetry, the similarity of hand-shapes can act as alliteration, and using the same hand-shape repetitively works as rhyme. Visual Vernacular (a term originated by Bernard Bragg) involves cinematic concepts. The technique involves references to close-ups, wide shots, images dissolving into other images as well as "cutting" back and forth between characters to show different points of view on a scene.


Translation for ASL poetry into a written or oral form involves crossing modalities. In ASL poetry the body is the text. It exists in performance or through a video recording, not on paper. Rhyming schemes are based on visual elements such as facial expression, movement, locations of the signs, and hand shapes. Therefore an oral or written translation of an ASL poem can only be an approximation of what is being expressed.

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