Gaining an appreciation for American Sign Language

William Woods ASL

Motivation comes in many forms for those wanting to become proficient in American Sign Language (ASL), and to work in various environments and professional settings as an interpreter.

Some people enjoy a strong personal connection to Deaf culture, through an existing relationship with a friend or relative. Others pursue the degree out of a deep sense of wanting to know Deaf culture.

The William Woods University online ASL Degree recognizes the need to master more than a language.

History and geography, as it relates to both ASL and its role in human communication, matter now more than ever.

Paris, France is as good a place as any to begin — this is where Abbé Charles-Michel de l’Épée first challenged longstanding roadblocks to Deaf education, legal rights and independence. He established a Deaf school there in 1760 — still in operation as Institut National de Jeunes Sourds de Paris.

A student of Abbé de l’Épée, Laurent Clerc would later join with Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet to found (April 15, 1817, Hartford, Connecticut) what is today known as The American School for the Deaf (ASD), the oldest permanent school for the deaf in the United States.

But even as Deaf culture and education expanded in the New World, similar change was underway around the world, including Australia. Click here to enjoy a rich responsive site exploring that history.

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