Joseph Hill, Carolyn McCaskill, Robert Bayley, and Ceil Lucas
The socio-historical reality of the segregation era defined the geographical and racial isolation of residential state schools for the deaf that led to the development of Black American Sign Language (Black ASL) in southern and border states after the end of the American Civil War. Even though residential state schools for White deaf children existed a few decades before the end of Civil War and sign language had been used, Black deaf children were limited to their own forms of sign language. The linguistic features of Black ASL are reviewed in the chapter based on data produced by two different generations of Black and White informants in the South. Our analysis identified specific features such as handedness, location of the sign, size of the signing space, the use of repetition, lexical differences, and the incorporation of spoken African American English into Black ASL.
This chapter provides an introduction to endangered sign languages specifically designed for linguists who know little about sign languages but who may have an interest in the documentation of endangered sign languages. Focusing on ten Southeast Asian sign languages, nine of which are endangered or dying and six of which are being documented by fluent Culturally Deaf users trained through the Asian-Pacific Sign Linguistics Program in The Centre for Sign Linguistics and Deaf Studies at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, this chapter provides information about: the historical relationships of these sign languages, sign language phonology, “alphabetization” of signs by formational parameters, sign language morphology, sign language syntax, and sign language lexicons and lexicography. Finally, the chapter provides some discussion about the possible future of the documentation, conservation, and possible revitalization of endangered sign languages.
Ronice Müller de Quadros
This chapter argues for specific actions needed for language planning and language policies involving sign languages and Deaf communities, based on the understanding of what sign languages are, who the signers are, where they sign, and the sign language transmission and maintenance mechanisms of the Deaf community. The first section presents an overview of sign languages and their users, highlighting that sign languages are often used in contexts where most people use spoken languages. The second section addresses the functions, roles, and status of sign languages in relation to spoken languages, as well as the relationship between Deaf communities and hearing society. The medical view of deafness, which has a significant impact on language policies for Deaf people, is critically considered. The third section offers examples of language policies, especially related to the use of sign languages in education, and an agenda for future work on sign language policy and planning.