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Content is always being added to this page so check back often to see new references to sign language. We are also adding "ILY" and other handshape items to the site.
ASL is the acronym for American Sign Language. It is a non-verbal language that uses precise hand shapes and facial expressions, movement and space, and non-manual behaviors to convey meaning. It has grammatical structure and is as expressive as any spoken language.
ASL is not universal. Historically, ASL is related to French Sign Language. One might assume the Deaf in the United States would use the same sign language as the Deaf, say, in the U.K. because the verbal language in both is English. Not so! BSL (British Sign Language) is very different than ASL. BSL, for example, uses a two-handed alphabet whereas ASL uses a one-handed alphabet.
There are many, many sign languages - Australian, Brazilian, Chinese, Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Mexican, Polish, Portuguese - at least 40 more official sign languages and hundreds of dialects! All are as different as are the spoken forms of those languages.
American Sign Language is not a game of charades. When telling a story or detailing an account, the signer is very expressive and may mimic body language or gestures but ASL is a true language; it is not pantomime.
Louise Hawkins, a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults), is a professional interpreter who has worked independently and in school systems. She is also the maker of the wonderful homemade soap and lotion bars found on this site. Kimber Caito, artist and website manager, is also an interpreter. That is why we decided there should be sign language related information on this site!
Oh yes, and...
Pah! is an often-used sign meaning 'at last!', 'finally!', 'ta-da!'
Below is a list of recommended web sites, books, workbooks and videos, etc. Many public libraries do not have a large selection of signed material for adults but you can ask for an "inter-library loan". Give the librarian the name of the publication and if it available from another library system it might be possible to obtain it.
Gallaudet University Press
Gallaudet has a wonderful selection of publications for those who are seriously interested in learning about sign language. See http://gupress.gallaudet.edu/ for information; publications can also be purchased at places like Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.
The American Sign Language Handshape Dictionary
(ISBN 1-56368-444-6) is a must, especially for beginners, because it has the option to look up a sign by the handshape rather than the English word. This version has about 1,900 signs and comes with a companion video dictionary on DVD.
The Gallaudet Dictionary of American Sign Language
(ISBN 978-1-56368-282-7) has more than 3,000 ASL sign illustrations and a companion video dictionary on DVD. It is not searchable by handshape (a nice option for beginners) like the ...Handshape Dictionary above. It includes signs for many U.S.A. states and other country sign names, which is a very nice reference for interpreters.
Quality, American Sign Language materials and resources such as the Signing Naturally series.
This is an excellent series!. The complete title is Vista American Sign Language Series, Functional Notional Approach, Signing Naturally, Student Workbook with DVD. Authors are Cheri Smith, Ella Mae Lentz, Ken Mikos. Publisher, DawnSignPress. It is an expensive set; it can probably be ordered from a local library system.
Life & Works of Bernard Bragg
Accomplished performer, writer, director, actor, poet, artist and... Deaf.
During the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy (October 2012), the media went crazy focusing on the New York City Mayor Bloomberg's interpreter! Mental_Floss posted these wonderfully-accurate and information articles that are 'must-reads' for anyone involved in or interested in languages.
Seven Things You Should Know About Sign Language
Why Do Sign Language Interpreters Look So Animated?
This article gives specific examples of how facial expressions change a sign and uses videos of Lydia Callis, the sign language interpreter for New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s televised addresses regarding the Hurricane Sandy devastation.
Sign Language & ASL (American Sign Language) - Links to Other Sites
Following are more web sites that may be of interest to you.
Deaf Services Center
Hallenross & Associates, LLC
Interpreting, professional development and consultation services primarily in Columbus and Central Ohio.
ASL publications for download - dramas, dramatic stories, ASL songs and Bible-based video in American Sign Language. This web site is the official web site of Jehovah's Witnesses but I find that it doesn't matter what religion you are. If you want to see some of the best-ever signing, check this out! My favorite is "The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived".
Ohio Department of Education
Ohio School for the Deaf
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