Signs of Segregation: the Singular Challenges Facing Black, Deaf Families

Sign Language Interpreter (ASL) at the 38th Capital Pride Street Festival in DC. (Elvert Barnes/Flickr/Creative Commons license)
Sign Language Interpreter (ASL) at the 38th Capital Pride Street Festival in DC. (Elvert Barnes/Flickr/Creative Commons license)

Frances Stead Sellers, THE WASHINGTON POST

 

(The Washington Post)—It’s no secret that the stamp of historic segregation is still seared into black and white Americans’ speech.

But it did surprise readers to learn a few years ago that a group of linguists and sign language experts had published a book and DVD – “The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL” (Gallaudet University Press) — describing the history and structure of a distinct form of signing they had identified among deaf African Americans.

When the Post published an article about Black ASL, it challenged many assumptions: Some people believed that sign language is universal — a kind of manual esperanto that would allow deaf users the world over to communicate across cultures.

Wrong.

 

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