Significant Gestures: A History of American Sign Language

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006 - History - 225 pages
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Tabak has created a fascinating exploration of a unique and uniquely beautiful North American language. The story begins in 18th century France in the first schools to use signed language as the language of instruction. Early in the 19th century a few individuals introduced a variant of this language into the United States and developed an educational system in which to use it. Out of these schools come members of a new American social class, the Deaf--with a capital D--who, united by a common signed language, create institutions through which they can participate in society on terms equal to those of other constituent groups. This strategy proved extremely controversial among all but the Deaf. The controversy lasted a century, during which time American Sign Language evolved along racial lines and in response to the pressures of those who sought to eliminate the use of American Sign Language.

Today, new ideas in art, science, and education have supplanted much of the old opposition to American Sign Language and Deaf culture. New legislation and new technologies have also had profound effects on the lives of American Deaf. As a consequence, American Sign Language is evolving faster than ever before.

 

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Contents

INTRODUCTION
1
CHAPTER 1 Methodological Signs and the Roots of American Sign Language
7
CHAPTER 2 The Natural Language of Signs
21
CHAPTER 3 Experiment in Television and the Last of the Great AntiAmerican Sign Language Debates
43
CHAPTER 4 The Language of the Deaf
69
CHAPTER 5 Race Deafness and American Sign Language
95
CHAPTER 6 A Language Like Any Other
115
CHAPTER 7 Modern Ideas about Modality
129
CHAPTER 8 The Deafblind and American Sign Language
157
CHAPTER 9 Some Contemporary Trends Affecting American Sign Language
181
AFTERWORD The Future of American Sign Language
205
NOTES
209
INDEX
219
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

John Tabak is a professional writer.

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