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Did One Deaf Child's Invention Change the World?

Welcome to the world changing invention by a deaf child!

Did One Deaf Child's Invention Change the World?

Who Invented American Sign Language (ASL)

American Sign Language (ASL) is a visual language used by individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. It involves using hand gestures, facial expressions, and body language to communicate.

What is ASL

ASL does not have a singular inventor, as it emerged over centuries through the innovation and communication of deaf communities in the United States. However, there have been several individuals who played important roles in the development and recognition of ASL.

In the early 1800s, Laurent Clerc, a deaf French man, came to the United States and founded the first school for the deaf with Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. At this school, now known as the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut, Clerc and Gallaudet combined French Sign Language with local sign systems to create what is now known as ASL.

Several deaf educators in the late 1800s and early 1900s helped to further refine and standardize ASL, including George Veditz, who was instrumental in preserving the language through the medium of film. Veditz recorded himself and other members of the deaf community signing in ASL, creating a valuable archive and resource for future generations.

History of ASL

ASL has a complex history, with influences from French Sign Language, Martha's Vineyard Sign Language, and Indigenous Sign Languages. It was not officially recognized until the 1960s, despite being used for centuries by deaf communities in the United States.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, a movement known as the Milan Conference led to the banning of sign language in schools for the deaf in many countries, including the United States. This forced many deaf individuals to learn and use spoken language instead of their native sign language.

However, ASL persisted and continued to evolve and develop. During the 1960s, the civil rights movement and advocacy efforts led to the recognition and acceptance of ASL as a legitimate language in the United States.

Deaf Culture and ASL

ASL is more than just a language—it is an integral part of deaf culture. Signing allows deaf individuals to connect with each other and express themselves in a way that is unique to their community.

ASL is a visual and spatial language, meaning that it relies on the use of physical space and movement to convey meaning. This emphasis on visual communication fosters a sense of community and belonging among deaf individuals, as well as a unique form of expression and art.

In addition, ASL has its own unique grammar and syntax that differs from spoken languages, reflecting the distinct culture and experiences of deaf communities. ASL is a vital part of deaf history and identity, representing their resilience, creativity, and self-determination.

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Early Contributors to ASL

American Sign Language (ASL) is a visual language used by the Deaf community in the United States. The language has a rich history, with many individuals contributing to its evolution. This article will discuss the early contributors to ASL, including Laurent Clerc, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, and William Stokoe.

Laurent Clerc

Laurent Clerc was born in France in 1785 and became deaf after a childhood illness. He was educated at the Royal Institution for the Deaf in Paris, where he learned French Sign Language (LSF). In 1816, American Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet visited the school to learn more about Deaf education. He was impressed with Clerc's teaching abilities and convinced him to come to the United States to help establish a school for the Deaf.

In 1817, Clerc arrived in the United States and helped open the Hartford School for the Deaf in Connecticut. He brought with him LSF, which heavily influenced the development of ASL. Clerc is considered one of the fathers of ASL and was instrumental in shaping the language's early development in the United States.

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet was born in Philadelphia in 1787. He graduated from Yale University in 1805 and pursued a career in law. In 1815, Gallaudet became interested in deaf education after meeting Alice Cogswell, a young Deaf girl who was unable to communicate with others. Gallaudet decided to travel to Europe in search of teaching methods and instructional materials for Deaf students.

While in Europe, Gallaudet met Laurent Clerc and was struck by his teaching abilities. He convinced Clerc to accompany him back to the United States to help establish a school for the Deaf. In 1817, they opened the Hartford School for the Deaf in Connecticut, which became the first American school for the Deaf.

Gallaudet worked to develop a standard sign language for use in the United States. He recognized the need for a common language for Deaf individuals, as different regions developed unique sign languages. Gallaudet and Clerc worked together to combine elements of LSF and local sign languages to create ASL, the first standardized sign language in the United States.

William Stokoe

William Stokoe was born in New Hampshire in 1919. He attended several universities, including Harvard University and the University of Edinburgh. In 1948, he began teaching English at Gallaudet University in Washington D.C., a school for the Deaf and hard-of-hearing. He became interested in sign language and began studying ASL.

In the 1960s, Stokoe conducted research and proved that ASL was a full-fledged language with its own grammatical structure. This was a major breakthrough, as many people believed that sign languages were a form of pantomime or gesturing rather than a true language. Stokoe's work helped to gain recognition for ASL and raised awareness about the importance of sign languages in general.

In conclusion, Laurent Clerc, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, and William Stokoe were early contributors to ASL. Their work helped to establish the language in the United States and gave it the legitimacy it deserved. Today, ASL is recognized as one of the most important sign languages in the world and continues to evolve and grow.

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Modern Contributions to ASL

Dr. Carol Padden and Dr. Tom Humphries

Two individuals who have had a significant impact on American Sign Language (ASL) are Dr. Carol Padden and Dr. Tom Humphries. Their contributions have revolutionized the way society views and understands deaf culture and sign language.

Dr. Carol Padden is a linguist and professor at the University of California, San Diego, while Dr. Tom Humphries is a professor at the University of Arizona. Together, they authored the book, "Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture," which explores the history of deaf culture and the struggles that deaf individuals have faced over time.

The groundbreaking book emphasizes the importance of sign language in deaf culture and highlights the need for greater recognition and respect for ASL as a legitimate language. Their work led to increased research on ASL, and greater recognition and acceptance of the Deaf community and its culture.

Nyle DiMarco

Nyle DiMarco is a deaf model, actor, and activist who has used his platform to raise awareness about deaf culture and the importance of sign language. DiMarco rose to fame after winning America's Next Top Model and used his newfound fame to advocate for the Deaf community.

In 2016, he competed and won on the popular television show Dancing with the Stars, becoming the first deaf contestant to win the show. DiMarco used this platform to showcase the beauty and versatility of American Sign Language through his performances. He has also worked with various organizations to break down barriers and create more opportunities for deaf individuals.

Ryan Commerson

Ryan Commerson is an innovative ASL interpreter who has worked with several famous musicians to make their music accessible to the deaf community. He has developed new methods to translate music and poetry into American Sign Language, including facial expressions and body movements.

Commerson has worked with a variety of musicians, including Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, and Pharrell Williams, to create ASL music videos that bring their music to deaf audiences. Through his work, he has made significant strides in bridging the gap between the deaf community and mainstream music.

Overall, these modern contributions have brought significant positive impact on the Deaf community and the promotion and use of American Sign Language. They have helped to change the way society views and interacts with deaf culture, and promote respect and appreciation for the unique beauty and complexity of ASL.

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