American Sign Language - Experience

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Where Did American Sign Language Originate?

Is Sign Language The Same Around The Globe?

No one form of sign language is universal. For example, British Sign Language (BSL) differs notably from ASL. Different sign languages are used in different countries or regions.

The exact beginnings of ASL are not clear. Many people believe that ASL came mostly from French Sign Language (FSL). Others claim that the foundation for ASL existed before FSL was introduced in America in 1817. It was in that year that a French teacher named Laurent Clerc, brought to the United States by Thomas Gallaudet, founded the first school for the deaf in Hartford, Connecticut. Clerc began teaching FSL to Americans, though many of his students were already fluent in their own forms of local, natural sign language. Today's ASL likely contains some of this early American signing. Which language had more to do with the formation of modern ASL is difficult to prove. Modern ASL and FSL share some elements, including a substantial amount of vocabulary. However, they are not mutually comprehensible.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: MargieK, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: December 16

I learned sign language (mainly) finger spelling years ago. Still today I use it occasionally. Mainly in retail in speaking to customers. I even had a customer that every time he came, he would ask for me. Although he spoke, he was still deaf. This was just great for him, that someone knew a little about ASL (American Sign Language).

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