When did Sign Language begin? Who taught the deaf people Sign Language? How did Sign Language begin in America? These questions and others have interest me into doing a research on American Sign Language History. In this paper I will be answering all of those questions.
American Sign Language (ASL) is the visual or gestural language which is the primary means of communication of deaf people in America and parts of Canada. Current estimates are that between 100,000 and 500,000 people use ASL (Gannon, 1981). This includes native signers who have learned ASL as their first language from deaf parents, hearing children of deaf parents who also learned ASL as their native language, and fluent signers who have learned ASL from deaf people. Furthermore, this gesture has been used for communication between groups of different languages and cultures. Until the 16th century, the deaf people were considered uneducable. They were scorned, put aside, and even feared. They were thought o be incapable of reasoning or having ideas. Some even thought the deaf people were possessed of demons. Parents were ashamed of their deaf children and hid them from the public. I must admit that when I first came to America, just when I got off the airplane I saw these two people all using their hands to sign and making facial expression I thought that they were possessed by a demon or they were playing some kind of games. This was very strange for me but later on I found out that they were deaf and had a problem of hearing.
In the past centuries there are four people around the world that changed the way sign language works. In the sixteenth century there was a man, Geronimo Cardano, a physician of Padua, in northern Italy, believe that deaf people could be taught to understand written combinations of symbols by associating them with the thing they represented. In 1620, the first book on teaching sign language to deaf people that contained the manual alphabet was published by...
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