What is American Sign Language

What is American Sign Language?

The language primarily used by Deaf people in the United States is American Sign Language (ASL), and many Deaf people acquire English as a second language. As is true for anyone who acquires English as a second language, there may be differences in English fluency. Fluency or lack of fluency in English is never a reflection of an individual’s intellect.

ASL is:

  • An established language with its own syntax and grammar distinct from English. Signs are not gestures.
  • Primarily used in the United States among people who are Deaf.
  • Not used by everyone who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
  • Not universal. Each country typically has its own sign language, even England, that is different from ASL (see Use of CDI).

To support self-advocacy for communication access. We have created an Advocacy Card for members of the Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing community to share with hearing people, informing them of federal laws requiring communication access and accommodations.

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  • 508-699-1477 (voice); answering service supports non-business hours sending messages to on call staff
  • 508-809-4894 (videophone) for ASL users