chapter  14
The Sociolinguistic Ramifications of Social Injustice
The Case of Black ASL
WithRobert Bayley, Ceil Lucas, Joseph Hill, Carolyn McCaskill
Pages 9

This chapter examines the social factors that led to the development of a separate variety of American Sign Language (ASL) in the segregated schools for African American children in the pre-Civil Rights era American South. We first examine the social conditions that existed for Deaf African Americans in the South, conditions that were conducive to the development of the variety of ASL known as Black ASL. The chapter then summarizes earlier work on Black ASL before focusing on an extensive study of Black ASL conducted by the authors. The results of that study show that in some respects that signing of older Black signers is closer to the standard variety taught in ASL classes than the signing of their White counterparts. We conclude by describing preliminary findings from an ongoing study of language use in Black Deaf families and suggestions for future research in this little known African American language variety.