What is ASL?
ASL is an acronym for American Sign Language. In ASL, the hands communicate by forming signs. These signs have meaning just like spoken words in English have meaning. When you learn to sign in ASL, you are learning a new way to say things. Learning ASL also means learning how to express yourself using your eyes, face, head movements, and body movements. Along with the hands, these features make ASL an exciting language to learn and use.
Who uses ASL?
It is the language used by Deaf people living in the United States and in Canada. It is used in schools, the community, and the workplace. Many Hearing people use it too.
10 reasons why you should learn ASL
10 more reasons to learn ASL
Who are we?
The founders of Signing Online combine over 25 years of expertise in teaching and writing about American Sign Language, including authoring E-Z American Sign Language by David A Stewart... published by Barrons Educational Series, with over 15 years of expertise in creating interactive multimedia educational products, including the development of the Personal Communicator CD-ROM, which won the Discover Magazine Software of the Year award in 1995.
Signing Online's mission is to make it easier for you to learn American Sign Language. Using advanced Internet technology and effective teaching theories, SigningOnline.com is designed to teach you American Sign Language from home, school, work, a library, an airport terminal, an Internet café, or anywhere you may be with an Internet connection, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
How SigningOnline.com helps you learn ASL
American Sign Language is different from spoken languages because it is a visual language and it is difficult, if not impossible to learn ASL from a book alone. Static images on a page and text just do not convey the flow and motion of the language. Further, courses in ASL are sometimes difficult to find close to home and are occasionally expensive.
That's why Signing Online feels that the ASL web courses are an enjoyable and effective way to learn American Sign Language.
The Course Creator
Dr. David Stewart Founder, Signing Online
David Stewart was the ASL content expert and the creative genius behind the Signing Online program as well as one of the signers in the courses. He has taught American Sign Language since 1979 and along with a team of researchers from Michigan State University, was responsible for the creation of the Personal Communicator, an award-winning CD developed in the mid-1990s to facilitate communication between deaf students and their hearing classmates in public schools.
Stewart was a professor and director of the Deaf Education program at Michigan State University. In addition to preparing teachers to teach deaf and hard of hearing children he oversaw the American Sign Language program. He was the recipient of several federal grants to conduct research on the education of deaf students. He made numerous presentations at national and international conferences.
Prior to attending graduate school and becoming a professor, Stewart taught deaf and hard of hearing children in a school for the deaf. He wrote extensively about the use of sign language in the classroom and the critical role it has in the identity of the Deaf community. He is the author of seven books and over 60 academic publications related to American Sign Language, sociocultural aspects of the Deaf community, and the education of deaf and hard of hearing children.
As a Deaf individual, Stewart had long ties with the Deaf community and its members. He served on the Board of Trustees for many years at Gallaudet University.
David passed away in June 2004. His passion for Deaf Education and American Sign Language lives on through his work and the many minds that he has touched.
David Stewart's vision for Signing Online:
Over ten thousand students have completed the courses for credit, non-credit and continuing education. Students from universities, colleges, high schools, government and non-government organizations, and businesses use Signing Online to educate themselves in American Sign Language.
On a personal note….
David Stewart, profoundly Deaf creator of Signing Online, and his deaf sister Diane grew up in a Hearing family setting. Their hearing loss was a “dawning realization” rather than an instant recognition that something was amiss. Those of us who later knew David and Diane agree that their grasp of language and speech skills indicate they must have had at least some vestige of hearing in their first years of life. “Children who become deaf at the age of two or later are called postlingually deaf. These children have already started speaking and have acquired language skills that will assist in the further development of language as they adjust to being deaf and to learning a new communication mode” (The Signing Family by David A Stewart and Barbara Luetke-Stahlman) Perhaps parents of deaf children will be heartened to know that David, a brilliant and creative person, could not hear but was still able to do everything else… His deafness was a fact of life and no more of a disability for him than the need to wear glasses to read. As I. King Jordan often said “Deaf people can do anything hearing people can do, except hear.” There is no doubt that David was a highly successful, brilliantly insightful Deaf man who accomplished much and was admired by many. David admitted that when he learned sign language it gave his life a new dimension along with much needed confidence. He wished he had been given the early social and emotional advantages of unfettered communication through Sign Language. From his determination to share this beautiful language the idea of Signing Online was created.
Some Books written by David Stewart
Language in Motion, Exploring the Nature of Sign. By Schein and Stewart. ISBN1-56368-039-4
The Signing Family, What every Parent Should Know about Sign Communication. By Stewart and Luerke-Stahlman ISBN1-56368-06906
Literacy and Your Deaf Child, What Every Parent Should Know. By Stewart and Clarke ISBN1-56368-136-6
E-Z American Sign Language. By Stewart ISBN978-0-7641-4458-5
If you have any additional questions, visit the Frequently Asked Questions page for answers.
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Anna has been so very successful this summer with ASL101 and ASL102. She's done great with the online classes and I'm so excited to let you know that she and I are having daily regular conversations using what she's learned (and more!) The classroom work with the book, assignments and research papers have really led her to explore other avenues of the hearing impaired world. She's working ahead and using various resources to learn new signs nearly every day. She's been signing almost exclusively with my sister who is deaf (and to the chagrin of the non-signers in the room!) An adult neighbor recently got a cochlear implant and because of her research, Anna was able to have intellectual verbal dialogue with him about the process, how it might impact his everyday life and his decision making process leading up to his implant. A deaf man works in the produce department at our local grocery store and he and Anna have regular ASL conversations and she actually ASKS to go to the grocery with me so she can find him and practice her ASL. (He loves having someone to converse with and mentor as well!) I love her interest and how it has taken off. She's excited about completing ASL 103 and 104 next summer. She wishes she wouldn't have to wait until next summer to fit in the class, but alas...her regular classes, schoolwork and marching band await.