Pass Down the Signs


Now I know before I threw a bunch of ideas out into the wide world of web-community that seemed specific to some of you, but were extremely broad and generalized to me. I knew what I wanted to study and I also think I knew the reason why, but honestly, I was sifting through my thoughts as I answered some of my peers questions, responded to their comments, and revised my project proposal. Lord thank the heavens that while researching for a more specific project topic, I ran across this amazing research study done by Dr. Carolyn McCaskill (woman from my previous post) and her research team about the Black ASL Project.


Their project went over a a 4 year time span (began in 2007 and continued as recently as 2011). The Black ASL Project was started to focus on two main things:

  1. Films of Black ASL as it is used in the South; the South is where the most regional and radical segregation occurred in the education of Black signers. The South is also the foundation of segregation in our country (my project pertaining to ASL), and evolved ASL into a separate language variety for Black signers.
  2. Provide linguistic features that introduce ASL in the Black community and make those features recognizable, as well as show the history and education of Black Deaf children.


These two things are exactly what my project needs! The birth is the South, finding Black ASL more prominent (though I’m quite certain there was Black ASL in the North before and after Reconstruction, as well as in France where Sign Language was first “founded”) amongst the distinctions between Black and White signers. The nurturing and caring however, is in the education of black Deaf children and how their ¬†introduction to Black ASL was relatively different from ASL introduced to White children. This project also gives tons of extensive research on the socio-hostorical foundation, cultural variation, ASL overview in Black signs, and Black signing space. These ideas will be placed creatively throughout my project to give some examples of the WHAT that is different in Black signers, as well as some historical context, and socializations throughout the years.


I’m really excited to dive into this research and hope that my project not only interests my peers and broader community of students, but teaches them something about my second language.







One thought to “Pass Down the Signs”

  1. Kalynn, it seems you’ve struck a jackpot in finding that study. I’m glad your project will be benefiting from Dr. McCaskill’s research and her very specific areas of exploration.

    It struck me that since she has already come up more than once in your own research that Dr. McCaskill could be a very good source for your project as a whole. Have you ever considered attempting to contact her directly? This is kind of scary, but in Googling her I was able to find not just her email but also several phone numbers. Perhaps this means she is very open to corresponding with others who share her passion for black sign language. At the very least, I think it’s worth a try–an interview with such an expert could make a great contribution to your project!

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