SHARE: Native or early signer (including CODAs)? 18 and older. Please take this online survey about ASL

Calling native and early signers (those who started signing before the age of 6) including CODAs 18 and older, you are invited to participate in a research study on American Sign Language as used by Deaf and signing communities in the United States. The survey is online, so you can do it in your own home and it should take no longer than 30 minutes. We are offering to reimburse $5 to participants who complete the survey.

To take the survey, click on the following link or copy and paste it into your browser:

UPDATE (3/2/17) – The survey can only be taken on a desktop computer. We are working on the possibility of taking this on a mobile device.

If you have any questions, you can contact Heather Hamilton via email at You may also contact Dr. Julie Hochgesang via email at

This has been reviewed by the IRB committee at Gallaudet University.

Posted in Research, Students | Tagged , , ,

SHARE: Media piece on Pro-Tactile ASL in Quartz, “A language for the DeafBlind”


Quartz wrote about Pro-Tactile ASL, link below, featuring faculty member Terra Edwards, her colleague and a DeafBlind user of PT Oscar Serna, and PEN faculty Clifton Langdon.

DeafBlind Americans developed a language that doesn’t involve sight or sound

“Pro-tactile ASL borrows bits and pieces from ASL, adapting them to be useful for people who can’t see. Rather than having the using their own hands as a reference for communication, people who convey information with pro-tactile ASL use the perceiver’s hands and body. The speaker will touch the perceiver’s body and mover his or her hands; in doing so, the speaker takes advantage of the perceiver’s proprioception, or sense of where his or her limbs are. “When we’re talking about a particular shape, instead of showing the shape in space, you’d show [by moving] the perceiver’s arm,” said Serna.”

To read more and see video, visit the Quartz site using URL below.

In case not available in original post, here is a transcript of captions and video descriptions with time stamps for Quartz’s “A Language for the DeafBlind” (compiled by Clifton Langdon):
0:00-0:05 Clifton Langdon & Oscar Serna facing each other. Oscar signs using PTASL. Text with an arrow above Oscar appears: “Oscar Serna.”
CC: Oscar Serna is speaking in a brand new language
0:05-0;11 Text appears: “I’m really stressed out” with “stressed out” in bold.
Oscar: “I’m really stressed out!”
0:12-0:16 Oscar standing, directly facing the camera.
CC: Oscar is both deaf and blind, or, “DeafBlind.”
0:17-0:19 Oscar and Clifton walk outside.
CC: He works at Gallaudet University, on a project tracking the evolution of a language for those who can’t see or hear.
0:20-0:22 Text on screen shows animation of “Pro-Tactile ASL”
CC: This new language is called pro-tactile ASL. The ASL stands for American Sign Language, which uses visual signs for words and phrases.
0:23-0:29 Clifton appears on screen and signs visual ASL version of what Oscar said about being stressed.
CC: The ASL stands for American Sign Language, which uses visual signs for words and phrases.
0:30-0:35 Oscar uses PTASL to talk about a car accident
CC: Pro-tactile ASL communicates entirely through touch.
0:36-0:43 Clifton uses visual ASL. Text appears: “I cut down a tree.”
CC: For example, here’s a sentence in ASL: Clifton: “I cut down a tree.”
0:43-0:50 Oscar uses PTASL. Text appears: “I cut down a tree.”
Here’s how Oscar would say the same sentence in pro-tactile ASL: Oscar: “I cut down a tree.”
0:50-0:59 Three circles appear showing ASL, Fingerspelling and Braille with “ASL” “Fingerspelling” “Braille” written above each.
CC: Historically, DeafBlind people communicated through American Sign Language, Braille, and fingerspelling, where each letter of each word is signed into a person’s hand.
1:00-1:02 Helen Keller photo shown with circle drawn around her hand on another woman’s hand emphasizing how she communicated.
CC: Helen Keller, maybe the world’s most famous DeafBlind person, used fingerspelling.
1:02-1:14 close up shot of Oscar, Clifton and his PhD student, Lauren Berger using PTASL together
CC: But those are limiting, especially when DeafBlind people want to talk to each other.
CC: Pro-tactile ASL emerged in the early 2000s, as once-isolated DeafBlind people began to form communities.
1:14-1:19 Clifton, Oscar, and a CDI on screen. The CDI is interpreting to Oscar from person off screen.
CC: DeafBlind people have been adapting American Sign Language and adding gestures for things many languages don’t have words for.
1:19-1:23 slow-motion replay with circle drawn around Clifton’s hand on Oscar’s arm to emphasize that Clifton is tapping on Oscar’s hand.
CC: For example, this tap on the hand is like nodding.
1:23-1:28 Oscar and Clifton walk down the hall and chat.
CC: The language has been evolving ever since.
1:28-1:42 Clifton sits and signs using visual ASL. A title appears: “Clifton Langdon. Professor, Gallaudet University”
CC: Clifton: “Now what’s new in pro-tactile is that we’re seeing things that were used in visual sign language be transition from the use of space to the use of the perceiver’s body.”
1:43-1:48 Two circles appear. The first contains cartoon eyes. The second contains a cartoon ear.
CC: Traditional theories of language defined it as something seen or heard.
1:48-1:49 A third circle appears containing a cartoon hand.
CC: But Pro-tactile ASL proves that language can also be communicated through touch.
1:49-1:54 Oscar talks to Clifton and Lauren outside.
CC: And for the people speaking it, it allows for a life with richer communication.
1:55-2:07 Oscar talks to Clifton. A title appears: “Oscar Serna. Research assistant, Gallaudet University”
CC: Oscar: “Since I became pro-tactile, all of the channels have opened up; information flows freely.”
“It’s like going from dial-up to broadband.”
2:07-2:11 Fade to black with credit to reporters: Nushmia Khan & Katherine Foley

Posted in Faculty, Linguistics, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

“The Dept of Linguistics: How We Got Here” – Brown Bag by Professor Emeritus Robert E Johnson 11/4, 12-1 @SAC1011

topic:  “The Department of Linguistics: How we got here.”
presenterRobert E. Johnson, PhD
when: Friday, November 4th 2016, 12 to 1 pm
where: SAC1011
Summary of presentation: Which people and principles drove the creation and growth of the department.

Bio: Robert E. (Bob) Johnson, PhD, is Professor Emeritus at Gallaudet, Washington, D.C., where, until he retired in 2012, he was Professor of Linguistics and Assistant Dean of the Graduate School and Extended Learning. He holds a B.A. degree in psychology from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Washington State University. He is an anthropological linguist, interested in the phonological and morphological structure of signed languages, their function in deaf communities, and their critical role in deaf education. He has examined the structures of a number of sign languages, including American Sign Language and the sign language of a Yucatec Maya community. He is co-author of the widely read monograph, “Unlocking the Curriculum: Principles for Achieving Access in Deaf Education,” and numerous papers on signed language structure and function.  Much of his recent work has focused on the imperative of bilingualism in the education of deaf children and on the ways in which the educational and medical communities resist it.

Posted in Brown bag lunch presentations, Faculty, Linguistics | Tagged , , , ,

CFP: FEAST 2017 (Reykjavík, June 21-22)

Call for papers FEAST 2017 (Reykjavík, June 21-22)
(shared from the SLLS-LIST,

The sixth meeting of the “Formal and Experimental Advances in Sign
language Theory” (FEAST) will take place at the University of Iceland,
Reykjavík, June 21-22, 2017.

FEAST is the official conference of the research project “The Sign Hub:
Preserving, Researching and Fostering the Linguistic, Historical and
Cultural Heritage of European Deaf Signing Communities with an Integral
Resource” (2016-2020), funded by the European Commission within the
Horizon 2020 programme. FEAST is a regular forum to discuss formal and
experimental approaches to sign language grammar and their interaction.

Invited speakers:

Chiara Branchini, University of Venice
Joanna Atkinson, University College London

Authors are asked to submit anonymous abstracts as e-mail attachments in
pdf format through EasyChair:

We plan to have oral presentations (30 minutes + 10 minutes discussion) as
well as a poster session. The poster session will be preceded by a special
session where each presenter has 5 minutes to introduce his/her poster.

The abstract should include the title and indicate whether it is intended
for an oral presentation or a poster. Abstracts should not exceed two
pages (including tables, examples and references) and they should be in
12-point type with single line spacing and 2,5 cm. margins.

Abstracts will be reviewed by an external panel and the reviewing process
will be double-blind. At most two abstracts, one of which must be
co-authored, can be submitted.

Conference dates: June, 21-22, 2017

Deadline for submission: January 15, 2017

Notification of acceptance/rejection: February 17, 2017

The conference e-mail:

The conference web page:

English and ASL are the official languages of the conference. Interpreting
between the two languages will be provided.

See also:

Local organizing committee:

Jóhannes Gísli Jónsson
Kristín Lena Þorvaldsdóttir
Rannveig Sverrisdóttir
Þórhalla Guðmundsdóttir Beck

Scientific committee:

Chiara Branchini
Diane Brentari
Anna Cardinaletti
Carlo Cecchetto
Caterina Donati
Karen Emmorey
Carlo Geraci
Meltem Kelepir
Gaurav Mathur
Roland Pfau
Christian Rathman
Josep Quer
Markus Steinbach
Ronnie Wilbur
Bencie Woll

Posted in Conferences, Linguistics | Tagged , , ,

Announcement: New journal “Society for American Sign Language Journal (SASLJ)”

Call for Papers
Society for American Sign Language Journal
ISSN: Pending (Online)

(Copied from email by Jody Cripps – please contact her if you have more questions about this)

Society for American Sign Language Journal (SASLJ) is a peer-reviewed journal. The bi-yearly publication of SASLJ provides a platform that imparts and shares knowledge that is socially conscious and sensitive towards promoting ASL as a human language. Linguistic principles are valued for understanding the signed language’s aesthetics and role in literacy development, learning, and use. The journal strives towards the validation and expansion of linguistic accessibility. SASLJ’s scope and forum include theory, policy, and practice considerations, as well as addressing how an alternative language modality fulfills the needs and well-being of all citizens in society.

Specifically, SASLJ is comprised of high quality scholarly work, empirical and theoretical research papers, as well as those of case and descriptive studies, literature reviews, and book and performance reviews that address the signed language and related fields.

The journal is published by the Society for American Sign Language and serves as a focal point for academicians, professionals, graduate, and undergraduate students, fellows, and associates pursuing research in the United States and Canada.

Interested contributors are highly encouraged to submit their manuscripts to the editor via e-mail at Please indicate the name of the journal (Society for ASL Journal) in the cover letter during submission via e-mail.

Manuscripts that have been peer reviewed and accepted will be hosted online. Readers who are members of the Society for American Sign Language organization will have the exclusive privilege of accessing the article during its first year of publication. After the first year, journal articles will be made available for all to view.

SASLJ is inviting papers for Vol. 2, No. 1. The online publication date is on May-June 2017. Submission Deadline: February 1, 2017.

SASLJ website provides further information about the journal and authors’ guidelines for manuscript submission at

If you wish to become a member of this organization or want further information, please go to

If you have questions about the journal, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Respectfully yours,

Jody H. Cripps, Ph.D.
SASL Journal

Posted in Uncategorized

News: ASL education represented at recent Community-Based Heritage Languages Schools conference

Miako Rankin, professor in our department, reported…

“Such a great group representing ASL education at the Community-Based Heritage Language Schools conference! So wonderful to share ideas across our various perspectives. And an absolute pleasure to meet Dr. Kim Potowski of University of Illinois, Chicago. Her keynote address, “Heritage language education: What is it good for? Why do some parents pursue it and others resist?” resonated on so many levels that we couldn’t stop discussing all through the rest of the day! Looking forward to many future collaborations.”


Posted in Conferences, Faculty, Linguistics | Tagged , , ,

Srudent presentation by Shane Blau, LIN doctoral student “Student Accent and linguistic characteristics of Deaf bilingual signers: Building the foundation for infant language research”

GRP presentation by Shane Blau, LIN PhD Student

“Accent and linguistic characteristics of Deaf bilingual signers: Building the foundation for infant language research”

This study analyzes the language of Deaf bilingual signers (unimodal bilinguals) producing language in their L1 and L2 sign languages. The original motivation for this study was to develop stimulus materials for a study on infants, specifically to determine whether Deaf infants can distinguish different unknown sign languages. For the infant task, it was critical to identify whether the language produced by the adult signers was accented, but there is little consensus on what constitutes accent in sign languages. The presented research aims to take a first step towards identifying the characteristics of accented sign. This presentation will explain the foundational concepts for the infant research question, and then discuss findings from an in-depth analysis of the language produced by native-signing Deaf adults who are fluent in more than one sign language. The analysis includes what features contribute to the perception of accent, how strong of an accent each signer was perceived as having, the impact of different L1 languages, and the characteristics of transfer between the L1 and L2 production. Sign languages examined include Persian Sign Language, Swedish Sign Language, Japanese Sign Language, American Sign Language and Langue des Signes Québécoise. Accent ratings vary significantly across individuals, but initial analysis shows that there was a significant difference in how Deaf and hearing participants rated the accent of the sign models. Overall, responses indicate that prosody and mouthing are the most significant factors in determining if a signer is accented. Based on these findings, the mouthing and prosodic features of each bilingual signer were examined for instances of transfer and non-native-like production. The presentation will give an overview of these findings, explore how these data can contribute to our knowledge about language discrimination in sign languages, and finally, tie the data back to the question of infant language development.

Shane Blau is a 4th year PhD student in the Department of Linguistics. He is hearing from a hearing family, and learned ASL as a young adult. His involvement with the Deaf community began in 1995 when he went to Boston University and majored in Deaf Studies. Since then, he has worked in education with Deaf teenagers, attended the Interpreter Preparation Program at Ohlone College (Fremont, CA), worked as a certified interpreter for 10 years, received his MA in Linguistics from Gallaudet (2012), studied neurolinguistics at UC Davis and now has returned to Gallaudet to pursue his research interest in language acquisition under the guidance of Dr. Deborah Chen Pichler. His current research focuses on the effects of early language experience on linguistic development. Specifically, he is investigating formational and prosodic differences in sign languages and children’s ability to discriminate between different sign languages.

Friday, September 30, 11:00am – 11:50am

Location: SLCC 3233, our Open Area


Posted in Uncategorized