Sign Links

ASL Learning Mall

Sign Language trunk icon
HomeHistoryTechnologyCultureSportsFAQ

Deaf Is.. Sign Language

American Sign Language (ASL) is used by many deaf people to communicate.

ASL Learning Mall

There are different "stores" in the ASL learning mall found on the left nav bar. Click on an item from within the store to learn the sign.

History of ASL

Clerc pictureLaurent Clerc, who was deaf, was from Paris, France. Thomas Gallaudet was hearing and from Hartford, Connecticut. Gallaudet met Clerc in Paris and wanted him to come to America to help him set up a school for the deaf. Clerc agreed to go. Aboard the Mary Augusta, they sailed for 51 days. On their voyage, Clerc taught Gallaudet French Sign Language and Gallaudet taught Clerc English.

Gallaudet imageThey arrived in America in August of 1816. After a while, they decided to go on a fund raising tour in the Northeast. They met many deaf people who had some home based signs, but no signs were consistent or the same.

In 1817, The Connecticut Asylum opened for 7 deaf students. They didn’t know sign language. Clerc taught them using French Sign Language. Some of the students’ families, such those from Henniker, New Hampshire and Martha’s Vineyard, already had established signing systems. The three sign systems together became the roots of American Sign Language.

hand sign iconClerc came to America and helped Deaf culture to grow by teaching through sign language. Many other deaf schools around America were founded by those trained at the Connecticut Asylum.

Deaf students used and learned sign language from these teachers. That form of sign language spread throughout America.

America Sign Language is cherished as the core element of Deaf Culture. It is the source of identity and pride to many deaf people.