The Topic:
American Sign Language (ASL)

Easier - Sign language is a method of communication which uses hand movements and other gestures.
Harder - Sign languages are rich, complex languages capable of expressing the same scope of thoughts, feelings, intentions and complexities as spoken languages. Today, there are more than 100 sign languages in the world. The language of the majority of North American culturally Deaf people is American Sign Language (ASL). ASL uses signs composed of specific movements and shapes of the hand and arms, eyes, face, head and body posture.
American Sign Language is the fourth most commonly used language in the United States. It is a visual language with its own grammatical rules and semantics. Many public schools and universities now offer classes in and recognize ASL as a modern “foreign” language.
American Sign Language/Signed English from Lesson Tutor
This site provides a series of step-by-step lessons to learn American Sign Language.
Related Website:
2) ASL on the Web by C. De Ruyter
3) Sign Writing
American Sign Language University by B. Vicars
This site offers online ASL courses that discuss various aspects of deaf culture, ASL grammar, history, terminology, and approximately 100 new signs.
Related Website:
2) ASL Info
ASL Fingerspelling by S. Gaertner
Here you find tools for novices and experts alike to help become more proficient at fingerspelling. There is a standard dictionary to learn the basic fingershapes, a fingerspelling converter, and an interactive quiz.
Related Websites:
2) ASL (American Sign Language) from Enchanted Learning
3) American Sign Language Browser from Michigan State University
4) ASL Dictionary from ASL Online (Page 1 of 5)
5) Animated American Sign Language Dictionary
6) Basic Guide to ASL
7) CG Wiz's FingerSpeller
8) HandSpeak: Visual Languages
How Long Does it Take to Learn Sign Language?
This site provides basic information about American Sign Language.
Related Websites:
2) American Sign Language from National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication
3) American Sign Language from Sign Media, Inc.
4) Introduction to American Sign Language from the National Association for the Deaf (NAD)
After visiting several of the websites for American Sign Language, complete one or more of these related activities.
Sign The Alphabet. Practice the sign language alphabet by identifying signed letters and numbers at Sign the Alphabet from Family Education Network, Inc. This program has two difficulty levels and keeps track of your score.
Play Boggle. Play this popular hidden word game using fingerspelling icons at Boggle for Fingerspelling!
Sharpen Your Fingerspelling Skills. Check your fingerspelling recognition by typing the words that are signed via animated video clips at ASL Fingerspelling Quiz. You also may want to try Fingerspelling Concentration.
Growing Up Without Hearing. Read the stories of four deaf children and their home and school lives, the kinds of schools they attend, and the different ways they communicate. Find the story at Growing Up Without Hearing from The Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University. Think about how your life might be different if you were deaf or hearing impaired. Which things would be most difficult for you? Write a short story about it.
Complete A Sign Language WebQuest. Follow or adapt the procedures found at one of the following webQuest sites:
1) DeafQuest by K. Foley, G. Goffredo, L. Kruger, & K. Thelen
2) How Many Languages
3) See the Music, Feel the Rhythm by M. Haider, M. Marles, S. Perkins, & N. Valenta
4) World of the Hearing Impaired by K. Storfa
Say It With Sign. Create and send a deaf greeting e-card using sign language. Follow the instructions found at (1) Deaf Greeting Cards and (2) ASL eCards.
Practice Signing and Fingerspelling. The following websites provide more fun ways to practice your skills in signing and fingerspelling.
1) American Sign Language Finger Spelling Word Search by J. Mikola from Lesson Tutor
2) American Sign Language Word Search by J. Mikola from Lesson Tutor
3) ASLSlanT Online (Download free program)
American Sign Language as a Foreign Language by S. Wilcox,
This site provides information about academic acceptance of American Sign Language (ASL) as a foreign language.
Related Website:
2) In Gesture Toward Change, Schools Sign On to 'Signing' by K. Conover, The Christian
Science Monitor
Communicating with Deaf People: A Primer
This is designed as a basic guide for hearing people who want to communicate with deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals.
Related Website:
2) Etiquette: Someone Who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing
3) Tips On How To Communicate And Comply Effectively with Deaf-Blind by E. Spiers & S.
Ehrlich and
4) Tips for Communication with People Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
Ear and Hearing
This site explains the ear and how it works, things that can cause hearing problems, and ways to protect your hearing.
Related Websites:
2) Hearing, Ear Infections, and Deafness from National Institute on Deafness and Other
Communication Disorders
3) Hearing from BrainPOP
4) Let's Hear It for the Ear! from KidsHealth
5) Quivering Bundles That Let Us Hear: Signals from a Hair Cell from Howard Hughes Medical
6) Sound Waves and the Eardrum by T. Henderson of Glenbrook South High School
Gallaudet University
Learn about the history of this college which is well-known for educating Deaf and hard of hearing students.
How Deaf People Communicate
This site discusses different ways deaf people communicate, including gestures and facial expressions, American Sign Language, speechreading, and cued speech.
Improving Signing Skills
Here you can find some practical suggestions for improving your sign language skills.
There's a Critical Time for Learning All Languages Including Sign Language from Newswise
Neuroscientists examining the brain activity of people who learned to speak American Sign Language at different times in their lives have found the first evidence that that is a critical period for acquiring nonverbal language, just as there is for spoken languages.
Other ASL Articles Online:
2) Critical Childhood Window for Becoming Fluent in Sign Language
3) Gesture on the Brain by M.C. Corballis from American Scientist
Short History of ASL
Learn the history behind this fascinating form of communication, how it came to this country, and more.
Related Website:
2) Deaf Culture: Culture, History, and Importance
More Websites On the History of American Sign Language:
3) Brief History of ASL
4) History of ASL
5) History Of Sign Language
6) History of Sign Language
7) When Did ASL Begin?
Sign with your Baby
Learn about a method of communication with hearing infants before they can speak. Don't miss the video clip from this commercial site.
Related Articles:
2) Baby Steps: Talking Points from Parenting,8266,6802,00.html
3) Can Teaching Sign Language to Babies Help Their Development?
Yamada Language Center
Download American Sign Language fonts at this location.
Related Websites:
2) ASL Specialty Fonts
Websites For Teachers
Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: Hearing
The purpose of this lesson is to increase your awareness of the issues and strategies related specifically to accommodations for students with hearing impairments.
American Sign Language Teachers Association
This is the website for a national organization dedicated to the improvement and expansion of the teaching of ASL and Deaf Studies at all levels of instruction.
Deaf and Diverse (Grades 6-8) from PBS's Sound and Fury
Students will be introduced to children who are deaf to understand their special communications needs. Students will come to appreciate deaf culture and the role that American Sign Language plays in forging a sense of community.
Related Lesson Plan from PBS Kids:
2) Communication Exploration: Deafness
3) Talking and Learning with Sight and Signing
TeachASL is an listserv which was designed to provide ongoing communication for teachers of ASL.
American sign language
eye contact
hearing loss
manual alphabet
Deaf culture
Thomas Gallaudet
French signing
ASL interpreter
facial clues
lip reading
Alice Cogswell
hard of hearing
Laurent Clerc
Gallaudet University
facial expression
Edward Gallaudet
foreign language
Deaf community
visual language
visual / gestural language
body language
deaf & hard of hearing terminology
Created by Robin Durkel, School Town of Highland, Highland, IN, 11/02.
Adapted by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 12/02.