The Past, Present, and Future of Black ASL

Thursday, 5 March 2020 - 5:00pm

B-1 Meyerson Hall, 210 South 34th St.

The Past, Present, and Future of Black ASL

Joseph Hill

Assistant Professor, Department of American Sign Language and Interpreting Education, National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Rochester Institute of Technology

Presented by the ASL Program in Penn's Department of Linguistics

The historical and linguistic changes in Black ASL align with the U.S. educational, political, and cultural landscapes which are identified as the sociolinguistic and geographical factors in the formation of Black ASL. As the recognizable part of the linguistic structure of Black ASL, phonology, morphology, and discourse are the features that make it a distinct variety of ASL based on the publications in the 1970s and 2010s. The presentation concludes with the future directions in the study of Black ASL that continues to evolve over time with the ever-shifting culture and ideology. 

Cosponsored by the Wolf Humanities Center and the Deaf-Hearing Communication Centre


Dr. Hill is a co-author of the 2011 Gallaudet University Press volume on the African-American variety of ASL, The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL: Its History and Structure. He is proud to be a part of the Black ASL research team because the history and language of the African-American Deaf Community deserves a closer look from the scholarly perspective. He also published a book in 2012, Language Attitudes in the American Deaf Community, which is a study of the factors of judgments and attitudes expressed by deaf and hard-of-hearing signers regarding the different types of signing that exist in the American Deaf community.

Dr. Hill is a co-editor for the Journal of ASL and Literature published by ASLized. He also serves on board of Discovering Deaf Worlds, whose mission is to advance the self-determination of signing Deaf communities through local capacity building in developing countries.

Presented in ASL with voice interpretation.

Reception to follow.

Free and open to the public.