A Language Recognized
Linguists, who had previsiouly
ignored the sign languages of the world, began to demonstrate that they
were natural languages equally capable of communicating abstract
thought, emotion, and complex information as spoken languages. The
result was that American Sign Language, ASL, was recognized as the
foundation of visually oriented Deaf community.
Forty Years after the language
gained academic recognition, schools have accepted sign language in the
classroom; public events commonly include sign language interpreters;
television and movie producers cast deaf actors; publishers welcome
scholarly and popular books and articles on signing and Deaf Culture;
students flock to sign language courses; and schools employ more deaf
teachers, principals, and superintendents. For some deaf people, the
most dramatic changes is new pride in using their language in public.
In 1960 William Stokoe's Grammar
of Sign Language challenged widely held perceptions about the
visual language used by the Deaf community. Scientists welcomed the
book's evidence of a new and unstudied language, but many educators of
deaf students continued to denounce it and all sign language research.
it would take 20 more years before Stokoe's work would reverse common
misunderstandings about ASL.
Gallaudet University Archives
In 1965, A Dictionary of American
Sign Language described signs of the language and led others to study
deaf people's sign language around the world. Symbols were used to
identify placement, handshape, and movement of signs.