Learning American Sign Language: Books, Media, and Classes

This Info to Go document, compiled at the Clerc Center, connects to resources about learning ASL, including where to find ASL classes.



About Learning ASL

American Sign Language (ASL) is visual language used by members of the North American Deaf community. ASL has its own unique rules of grammar and syntax. The shape, placement, and movement of the hands, as well as facial expressions and body movement, all play an important role in conveying information. ASL is not a universal language; similar to spoken languages, signed languages develop naturally in their own regions or countries.

Enrolling in sign language classes and meeting people who are deaf and use ASL, are the best ways to learn the language. These approaches will enhance the learning experience and provide opportunities to practice and develop fluency in a conversational setting. There are on-line resources, books, and other media, however that can support ASL learning.

Locating Classes: American Sign Language

Many sign language classes are offered throughout the country. While it is not possible to keep records of all locations, we can recommend that you check with places most likely either to offer classes or have information about them:

  • Community colleges/universities
  • Libraries (some libraries are clearing houses for community activities)
  • Adult education/continuing education programs
  • Vocational rehabilitation services (most states have a coordinator of services for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing)
  • Recreation and community centers (YWCA, YMCA) 
  • State and county department of public instruction, education, or special education
  • Religious affiliated organizations
  • State schools for children who are deaf
  • Interpreters for people who are
  • Organizations/groups by, and for, individuals who are deaf
  • State offices/commissions for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing

The annual reference issue of the American Annals of the Deaf includes a comprehensive list of schools for deaf students and services for deaf people. These schools and programs would be good contacts for question about the availability of sign language classes. Check your library for a copy or contact: American Annals of the Deaf.

If you live in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, we have a list of programs that may offer ASL classes: Washington, D.C. Area ASL Classes (PDF).

On-line ASL Resources and Media

  • ASL apps

ASL Apps List from the New Mexico School for the Deaf (PDF)

This extensive list of apps to teach signing was developed at the New Mexico School for the Deaf.  It includes apps for children, adults, and low vision/blind children, to teach the manual alphabet and support literacy, and books to download.

Four ASL apps

This website links to four popular apps to learn ASL: iASL, ASL Pro, Sign 4 Me, and ASL Dictionary.

Marlee Signs

This app highlights video demonstrations of Marlee Matlin teaching the basics of ASL, including the signed alphabet, basic vocabulary, and common expressions in everyday life.

VL2 Storybook apps

These apps, developed by the Visual Language Visual Learning Center (VL2) at Gallaudet, provide interactive stories in both American Sign Language (ASL) and English.

This subscription-based website provides ASL video lessons. The content is for anyone who wishes to learn ASL, regardless of age. It has been designed to instruct deaf students, parents of deaf children, and the community-at-large. You may cancel your subscription at any time. Nationally certified interpreters teach all lessons.

This is an on-line video library of ASL literature and ASL linguistics research.

  • ASL On-line Dictionaries

Master Tech ASL Dictionary 

American Sign Language University - ASL Dictionary

Hand Speak 

This is a resource for families learning ASL. It includes ASL words, pictures, and stories.

This website was created as a free resource for classroom teachers. It includes a main dictionary, religious signs dictionary, ASL for babies dictionary, and ASL and fingerspelling quizzes.

This book and DVD package is accompanied by web-based instruction to teach fundamentals of ASL grammar, vocabulary, and syntax.

This is an on-line curriculum resource for ASL students, instructors, interpreters, and parents of deaf children.

This website links to resources (online and in other media forms) to facilitate ASL development with young children through Baby Signing Time and Signing Time for children. Included is a video series that teaches ASL signs for common words, questions, phrases, movements, colors, sports, days of the week, everyday objects, and common activities. It incorporates music with signs, songs, animation, and real signing children for everyday events like playtime, getting dressed, going places, getting ready for bed, and manners.

        Signing Savvy is a sign language dictionary containing several thousand high resolution videos of American Sign Language (ASL) signs,     
        fingerspelled words, and other common signs used within the United States and Canada. Signing Savvy includes the ability to build             
        custom word lists and share them with others, create virtual flash cards and quizzes, print signs, build sign phrases, and much more! 

These resources promote experience with ASL in stories for children, entertainment by famous Deaf performers, ASL poetry, and classic stories performed in ASL by master storytellers.

  • Sign With Me: A Family Sign Language Curriculum

Volume 1: Building Conversations    Volume 2: Building Concepts    Volume 3: Positive Parenting

Produced by the Center for Hearing Loss in Children at the Boys Town National Research Hospital, this three-volume set of instructional videos with an accompanying workbook teach ASL to families. Volume one teaches signs and techniques for everyday conversations with a young deaf child; volume two teaches parents how to sign abstract concepts encountered daily by deaf toddlers, such as “funny,” “soft,” and “sticky,” and volume three teaches how to use signs for praising and effectively disciplining a young deaf child.

These free, on-line ASL classes are available for instant download.

This product includes DVDs with flashcards demonstrating how to use ASL to facilitate early language acquisition for babies.

Companies Selling ASL Books and Products

This e-retail site offers an extensive selection of books and resources to learn about ASL. Type "ASL books" in their search box and you will see a list of books, all with user reviews.

This publishing company provides numerous books and other media to assist in adult and child learning of ASL.

This educational materials publisher offers numerous books and other media to assist in adult and child learning of ASL.

This company offers materials in ASL, books about ASL, and more.

Gallaudet University Press sells a variety of ASL texts and other deaf-related resources.

This company allows interpreters, translators, teachers, students, companies, and language schools to connect with each other and teach or learn sign language all over the world.

This company offers books and other multimedia-related resources for learning ASL.

This company specializes in the development of ASL-accessible computer software and other assistive technology products.

Sign Media produces videotape and text materials on ASL and American Deaf culture. Its catalog is available: http://signmedia.com/info/cat.htm.

This company sells ASL texts and other books and resources about ASL and Deaf culture.

 

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