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14:1 Monday, January 30, 2012

The Difference Is Black and White

A Study of a Distinct ASL Dialect Receives High Honors

The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL: Its History and Structure, authored by Carolyn McCaskill, Ceil Lucas, Robert Bayley, and Joseph Hill, along with its accompanying DVD, present the first empirical study that verifies Black ASL as a distinct form of ASL, including information on its antecedents. John G. Baugh, Margaret Bush Wilson Professor in Arts and Sciences and director of African and African American Studies at Washington University (St. Louis, MO), makes this observation: “The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL offers readers unique insights regarding Black American Sign Language in vivid social, historical, and linguistic detail. Informed by universal linguistic principles, the authors offer carefully crafted observations and analyses that will be of interest to anyone who studies human language.”

This groundbreaking book is the culmination of a four-year research project called The Black ASL Project. The mission of the project is three-fold: to create a filmed corpus of conversational Black ASL as it is used in the South, to provide a description of the linguistic features that make Black ASL recognizable as a distinct variety of ASL and of the history of the education of Black Deaf children, and to disseminate the project findings in the form of teaching materials and instructional resources. As a result, the stellar work presented in The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL garnered it the National Black Deaf Advocates’ Andrew Foster Humanitarian Award.

Read more about this one-of-a-kind study in chapter one, and order your copy of The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL today.


In Show of Hands: A Natural History of Sign Language, David F. Armstrong casts a wide net in history and geography to explain how sign languages have enriched human culture in general and how their study has expanded knowledge of the human condition, from early human anatomy to the ubiquitous benefits of “Deaf Gain.” Choice magazine took notice of this engrossing survey in its current issue stating: “Anthropologist Armstrong offers a sweeping study of languages in human history. Drawing primarily on the author’s previously published works, this compilation will serve primarily advanced undergraduates and others with specialized knowledge in sign language linguistics. Highly recommended.” And, Reference & Research Book News made this observation: “The diverse terrain covered includes language theory work of Noam Chomsky, Steven Pinker, and Stokoe; discussion of the anatomy of early human ancestors; evidence found in excerpts from the writings of Shakespeare, Dickens, and Pound; observations from Socrates, Lucretius, and Abbé de l’Epeé on signing among deaf people; and the development of sign languages in isolated Bedouin communities and indigenous peoples of North America and Australia.” Read more about this volume in chapter one, “Seeing is Believing,” and order Show of Hands online or by mail.


Reference & Research Book News also highlighted author Stephanie W. Cawthon’s new book, the first in the Deaf Education series, Accountability-Based Reforms: The Impact on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students: “Launching a new series, Cawthon examines how the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act and other right-wing accountability-based (that is, testing-based) education reforms have affected students who are deaf or hard of hearing. She looks at the deaf education context, what an accountability reform is, what accountability measures, how progress is measured, accountability and schools, educational professionals and accountability reform, accountability to parents, and accountability and students who are deaf or hard of hearing.” Read chapter one, “The Deaf Education Context,” and order Accountability-Based Reforms online or by mail.


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