Did you know…
sign language is not universal? Many countries have their own spoken language as well as their own signed language. In most English-speaking parts of Canada and the U.S. the standard sign language is ASL or American Sign Language. And, just like spoken languages, there are dialects of sign language.
Black ASL is a dialect used amongst Black Deaf people primarily in the southern states. Like their hearing counterparts, Black Deaf people too have experienced segregated schools and discrimination.
The Black ASL project aims to document this variety of sign language used by the African-American Deaf community. They have produced a book, also available as a DVD, called The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL: Its History and Structure.
The authors are Carolyn McCaskill (PhD), Ceil Lucas (PhD), Robert Bayley and Joseph Hill (PhD). McCaskill attended the Alabama School for the Negro Deaf and was also in the first integrated class at the Alabama School for the Deaf in 1968. She has taught ASL and Deaf Studies at Gallaudet university. Lucas, Bayley and Hill all specialize in linguistic studies and have experience with diverse culture. Roxanne Dummet-King (Black Deaf), Pamela Baldwin (Black Deaf), and Randall Hogue (interpreter) also collaborated on this project.
The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL is published by Gallaudet university, a worthwhile stop if you are visiting Washington, DC.
Gallaudet University, the world’s only university with programs and services specifically designed to accommodate deaf and hard of hearing students, was established in 1864 by an Act of Congress, and its charter was signed by President Abraham Lincoln.
Retrieved on February 27, 2014 from https://www.gallaudet.edu/about_gallaudet/fast_facts.html