American Sign Language/Further Resources

Writing systemsEdit

Please note, many resources include written ASL. ASL is often written with English words in all capital letters, which is known as glossing. This is, however, a method used simply to teach the structure of the language. ASL is a visual language, not a written language. There is no one-to-one correspondence between words in ASL and English, and much of the inflectional modulation of ASL signs is lost.

There are two true writing systems in use for ASL: a phonemic Stokoe notation, which has a separate symbol or diacritic mark for every phonemic hand shape, motion, and position (though it leaves something to be desired in the representation of facial expression), and a more popular iconic system called SignWriting, which represents each sign with a rather abstract illustration of its salient features. SignWriting is commonly used for student newsletters and similar purposes.


  • Groce, Nora Ellen (1988). Everyone Here Spoke Sign Language: Hereditary Deafness on Martha's Vineyard. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-27041-X. 
  • Klima, Edward, and Bellugi, Ursula (1979). The Signs of Language. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-80795-2. 
  • Harlan Lane|Lane, Harlan L. (1984). When the mind hears: A history of the deaf. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-394-50878-5.
  • Scott Liddell|Liddell, Scott K. (2003). Grammar, Gesture, and Meaning in American Sign Language. Cambridge University Press.
  • Padden, Carol; & Humphries, Tom. (1988). Deaf in America: Voices from a culture. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-19423-3.
  • Oliver Sacks|Sacks, Oliver W. (1989). Seeing voices: A journey into the land of the deaf. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-06083-0.
  • Stokoe, William C. (1976). Dictionary of American Sign Language on Linguistic Principles. Linstok Press. ISBN 0-932130-01-1. 
  • William Stokoe|Stokoe, William C. (1960). Sign language structure: An outline of the visual communication systems of the American deaf. Studies in linguistics: Occasional papers (No. 8). Buffalo: Dept. of Anthropology and Linguistics, University of Buffalo.
  • Barnard, Henry (1852), "Tribute to Gallaudet--A Discourse in Commemoration of the Life, Character and Services, of the Rev. Thomas H. Gallaudet, LL.D.--Delivered Before the Citizens of Hartford, January 7th, 1852. With an Appendix, Containing History of Deaf-Mute Instruction and Institutions, and other Documents." (Download book:

Online Dictionary ResourcesEdit

  • wikt:Index:American Sign Language
  • List of every ASL online dictionaries (en - fr)
  • American Sign Language (ASL) resource site. Free online lessons, ASL dictionary, and resources for teachers, students, and parents.
  • Video ASL Dictionary - This dictionary has both animated and text definitions. The text definitions also have letter or number sign images to aid in visualizing the sign. This will allow you to quickly locate a word, read how to sign the word, and choose to view the animated sign if you wish. The sign images are displayed from the perspective of the viewer, not the signer. It is easy to remember this if you imagine that someone is signing to you while you are viewing the word definitions.(requires Quicktime)
  • Handspeak - Online ASL dictionary that offers additional resources such as baby sign, international sign, sign art, and more. However, this site needs a subscription for the dictionary itself.
  • ASLPro
  • Signing Savvy

More Online ResourcesEdit