American Sign Language & More...


American Sign Language (ASL) is a different form of language from languages that many people use everyday. ASL is a language where people use their hands, rely on facial expressions and body languages. ASL users are primarily deaf or hard of hearing. ASL does not discriminate because it includes children of deaf adults, interpreters, teachers of the deaf and pretty much anyone who loves to learn and use language.

ASL is not the sole sign language established in this world - many countries across the world has their own verisons of sign language. American Sign Language is actually an evolved version of a collaborated and mixture of native Indian Sign Language, native Martha Vineyard Sign Language, and French Sign Language (LSF) brought by Laurent Clerc when he was asked to teach at American School for the Deaf established by Thomas Gallaudet in 1817.

Despite the language being solely used by deaf and hard of hearing people, more doctors and parents recognize that knowing sign language at a very young age enables visual concepts and makes way for development of the English language. Most of the infants and toddlers will forget sign language as its use is not continued; however, some children will show aptitude and continue to use sign language especially if they are related to or have befriended deaf people.

ASL is one of the most popular language in the nation to be taught and learnt. With technological advancements in hearing improvement and mechanical hand signs recognition, ASL continues to be a personal and close language of many deaf and hard of hearing people with their close relatives and friends.

ASL is not just merely a manual language; however, it includes and incorporates facial expressions and body language that closely resembles the way spoken language users show. Facial expressions and body language is to ASL users are what tonal inflictation and minute gestures are to spoken language users. They also share structures that are similarily found in other languages; foundation, syntax, grammar, conceptualzation and more.

Interested in taking ASL or becoming an Interpreter? Look no further!
Interested in learning ASL for fun and meeting other Deaf people? Check out Deaf Events on the Home Page.
Colleges and Universities with ASL/Interpreting Programs

In Indiana:

Ball State University - Muncie, Indiana (ASL)

Bethel College - Mishawaka, Indiana (ASL/ITP)

Goshen College - Goshen, Indiana (ASL/ITP)

Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, IN (ASL)

Purdue University - Lafayette, Indiana (ASL)

Purdue U. North Central - Westville, Indiana (ASL as foreign language)

Vincennes University - Vincennes, Indiana (ASL/ITP)

Out of State:

California State University, Northridge - CA (ASL/Deaf Studies/ITP)

Columbia College, Chicago, IL (ASL/ITP)

Gallaudet University - Washington, DC (ASL/Deaf Studies/ITP)

Harper College, Chicago, IL (ASL/ITP)

National Institute of the Deaf - Rochester, NY (ITP)

ASL Links:

General Links:
History of ASL/American School for the Deaf
ASL Info

Gallaudet University Library: Sign Language
U.S. Insurance: Healthy Reference to ASL
Wise Old Sayings - ASL Resource

ShoreTel Sky: World of Communications - ASL

Baby/Toddler Signs:
Sign 2 Me

Writing Systems:
(Writing Systems & Languages of the World)


ASLTA (American Sign Language Teachers Association)
CIT (Conference of Interpreter Trainers)
RID (Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf)

Online Dictonaries:
ASLPro (Dictonary & Fingerreading Quizzes)
ASL University (Dictonary, Fingerreading & More)
(Dictonary & ASL Grammar)
ASL Numbers (Number Speciality)

ASL Products:
ASL Rose
(Includes Activity Section)
Harris Communications
DawnSign Press
Talking Hands ASL

Amy Asks - What to do when people are staring at you while signing?

Why do we have different signs for some words in some regions?

How did ASL come about?

What is the difference between American Sign Language and Braille?

How can I read fingerspelled words easily?

Why are hearing people and deaf people different?

Can deaf people speak?


"You Have to be Deaf to Understand"
By Willard J. Madsen (written in 1971)

What is it like to "hear" a hand?
You have to be deaf to understand.

What is it like to be a small child,
In a school, in a room void of sound -
With a teacher who talks and talks and talks;
and then when she does come around to you,
She expects you to know what she's said?

Or the teacher thinks that to make you smart,
You must first learn how to talk with your voice;
So mumbo-jumbo with hands on your face
For hours and hours without patience or end,
Until out comes a faint resembling sound?
You have to be deaf to understand.

What is it like to be curious?
To thirst for knowledge you can call your own,
With an inner desire that's set on fire -
And you ask a brother, sister, or friend
Who looks in answer and says, "Never mind"?
You have to be deaf to understand.

What is it like in a corner to stand,
Though there's nothing you've done really wrong,
Other than try to make use of your hands
To a silent peer to communicate
A thought that comes to your mind all at once?
You have to be deaf to understand.

What is it like to be shouted at
When one thinks that will help you hear;
Or misundertand the words of a friend
Who is trying to make a joke clear,
And you don't get the point because he's failed?
You have to be deaf to understand.

What is it like to be laughed in the face
When you try to repeat what is said;
Just to make sure that you've understood,
And you find that the words were misread -
And you want to cry out, "Please help me, friend"?
You have to be deaf to understand.

What is it like to have to depend
Upon one who can hear to phone a friend;
Or place a call to a business firm
And be forced to share what's personal, and
Then find that your message wasn't made clear?
You have to be deaf to understand.

What is it like to be deaf and alone
In the company of those who can hear -
And you only guess as you go along,
For no one's there with a helping hand,
As you try to keep up with words or song?
You have to be deaf to understand.

What is it like on the road of life?
To meet with a stranger who opens his mouth -
And speaks out a line at a rapid pace;
And you can't understand the look in his face
Because it is new and you're lost in the race?
You have to be deaf to understand.

What is it like to comprehend
Some nimble fingers that paint the scene,
And make you smile and feel serene
With the "spoken word" of the moving hand
that makes you part of the world at large?
You have to be deaf to understand.

What is it like to "hear" a hand?
Yes, you have to be deaf to understand.


Silent World
- Joanna T. Charpentier

A world of silence
There is no sound
Only movements and bright lights
To stimulate the eyes
Which take in the world.

The spoken language is common
To hear them in silence is unheard of
Hands move rapidly or slowly
Penetrating the 'sound' barrier.

The world is lit with movement
Strangely, no sound but gutterals
To prove that there is silence
By hand or by gestures.

Simply watch, do not hear
Simply read, do not speak
This is a different world
Held by those who cannot hear
Proudly be DEAF.


"What is it like to be Deaf?"
-Unknown Author

What is it like to be deaf?
People have asked me.
Deaf? Oh, hmmmm, how do I explain that?
Simply, I cannot hear.

Noooo, it is much more than that.
It is similar to a goldfish in a bowl.
Always observing things going on.
People talking all the time.
It is being a man on his own island.
Among foreigners.

Isolation is not a stranger to me.
Relatives say "hi" and "bye"
But I sit for five hours among them.
Taking great pleasure at amusing babies.
Reading books, resting, helping out with food.

Natural curiosity perks up
Upon seeing great laughter, crying, people upset.
Inquire only to meet with "never mind",
"Oh, it's not important".
Getting such a summarized statement
of a whole story.

Supposed to smile to show the happiness.
Little do they know how truly miserable I am.
People are in control of language usage,
I am at loss and real uncomfortable.

Always feeling like an outsider
Among the hearing people
Even if it was not their intention.
Always assume that I am part of them
By my physical presence, not understanding
The importance of communication.

Facing the choice between the Deaf Camping
Facing the choice between family committment
and Deaf friends,
I must make the choice constantly,
And wonder why I choose Deaf friends???

I get such great pleasure at Deaf Clubs,
Before I realize, it is already 2 am
Whereas I anxiously look at the clock
Every few minutes at the family reunion

With Deaf people, I am so normal,
Our communication flows back and forth,
Catching up with little trivials, our daily life,
Our frustration in the bigger world,
Seeking the mutual understanding.

Contented smiles, and laughing are muscial.
So magical to me
So attuned to each other's feeling.
Truly happiness is so important.

I feel more at home with Deaf people
Of various colors, religions, short or tall,
Than I do among with my own hearing relatives.
And wonder why?
Our language is common.
We understand each other.

Being at a loss of control
Of environment, that is, communication,
People panic and retreat to avoidance,
Deaf people are like the plague.

But Deaf people are still human beings
With dreams, desires and needs
Of belonging, just like everyone else.


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