The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL
October 13, 2012 4:06 AM Subscribe
When Carolyn McCaskill was 15 years old, she and nine other deaf black students were enrolled in an integrated school for the deaf in Talledega, Alabama. McCaskill had learned American Sign Language at home with her two deaf siblings and at the nearby Alabama School for the Negro Deaf and Blind. "When the teacher got up to address the class, McCaskill was lost." The American Sign Language used by the teacher and white students at her new school looked different than the American Sign Language that McCaskill had learned at home and at her previous school. Today, McCaskill is one of the leading authorities on Black ASL, which has distinctive features as a result of a history of segregated schools for the deaf and the influence of spoken black English. She is a professor at Gallaudet University, the co-director of the Black ASL Project, and a co-author of "The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL."
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