American Sign Language users share personal experiences in honor of National ASL Day

William Woods ASL

 ASL interpreting students learn how to get the most out of their degree

In a speech last fall in Columbia, Missouri at the University of Missouri’s Celebrate Ability Week, Deaf activist, actor and model Nyle DiMarco ended with a piece of advice: Embrace yourself, he said.

Assumption psychology students learn how social connections affect wellbeing. It’s this kind of celebration and embracing of Deaf culture for which National ASL day was created.

Held on April 15 every year in honor of the date in 1817 that the first school for the Deaf in the United States opened, National ASL day celebrates this unique heritage, and raises awareness for advocacy and opportunity for Deaf people and ASL users.

Last month, for National ASL Day, NPR interviewed five people who use ASL everyday, filmed at Gallaudet University. This video includes unique perspectives from ASL speakers — answering the question: what would you like people to know about ASL.

Here are a few of our favorite quotes from the video:

“One thing is, daily, we see that hearing people think that ASL isn’t a language, but the brain doesn’t discriminate against ASL as a language. ASL has all of the features of any other language in the world.” – D.T. Bruno

“I come from a linguistic minority where we have our own culture — not only here but around the world.” – Felicia Williams

“Okay, it’s like the English language has different accents… It’s the same thing with sign language. The different styles of signing are the same as accents in English. I also think that some people say that I sign something a little bit different.” – Leyland Lyken