Spanish Translation Blog: Spanish Translation US » Blog Archive The Facts on American Sign Language (ASL)

The Facts on American Sign Language (ASL)

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders, American Sign Language (ASL) is a complex language that utilizes signs made by moving the hands and creating postures of the body and facial expressions. It is primarily used by North Americans who are deaf, but it has also been used for those with cognitive disabilities, such as children delayed in communicative development. Additionally, sign language in general can serve populations outside of the deaf community. For example, approximately 1.6 million people in South Africa use Sign Language as a first language.

Ironically, ASL is completely unrelated to English; it employs topic-comment syntax, rather than a subject-object-verb construction used in English grammar. In fact, American Sign Language shares more with the Japanese language than it does with English! (Karen Nakamura,

Sign language is different in each country, and therefore, there is no “universal sign language” or real “international sign language.” OFSL (Old French Sign Language) and British Sign Language (BSL) are examples of sign language variants (however, ASL and OFSL share about 60% of their linguistic features).

Although the debate continues as to whether to establish ASL as a “foreign language” in the United States, 28 states have passed legislation declaring ASL as a foreign language. Furthermore, several community colleges and universities (including Brown, Georgetown, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) accept ASL as a foreign language academically.

Furthermore, international institutions, such as the World Federation of the Deaf and the United Nations on human rights continue to support the recognition of sign languages, specifically for the deaf community. According to the National Association for the Deaf (NAD), deaf infants and children should be given the opportunity to acquire and develop proficiency in ASL as early as possible, and the NAD also advocates for ASL to be officially considered as a legitimate language.

To receive more information regarding ASL interpretation and our services, please visit our webpage about ASL interpretation  or contact us for a free ASL quote.

No tags for this post.