National ASL Day takes place on April 15 every year to celebrate American Sign Language. American Sign Language is used by those who cannot hear or speak — usually by people part of the Deaf community. The universality of sign language has helped such people to communicate across language barriers. Though the written word is also a way to communicate, it is clunky, lacks expression, and is time-consuming — especially when a message needs to be given fast. American Sign Language is also used by those who can speak and hear but need to communicate with those who cannot. In some countries, sign language is also one of the official languages — as it is a necessary step toward inclusivity.
History of National ASL Day
The history of American Sign Language is over 200 years old. In the year 1815, a school for the deaf was established hoping to create an accessible language for those who cannot hear or speak. However, it was a rudimentary language at that point. Sign language emerged as a combination of several sign languages (that are still in use today), such as Native American Sign Language, French Sign Language, and Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language. With the help of these pre-existing sign languages, American Sign Language (A.S.L.) was born.
Since the time American Sign Language was created, it has been enthusiastically accepted throughout the world. Today, American Sign Language is used in Canada, all across America, and has even found its way to countries in Central Africa, West Africa, and Southeast Asia. Given its origin and its many commonalities with French Sign Language, sign language was also accepted in French colonies.
Thanks to A.S.L., people are now able to communicate with each other without feeling “hopeless” or “useless” like others did before its emergence. American Sign Language has become a tool of communication for even those with various speech impairments. While American Sign Language is used as the official sign language of news broadcasts, the language is also being taught as a subject/module in many educational institutes around the world! If we all learn even a few words of American Sign Language, the world will become more accessible and inclusive in terms of speech and language.
National ASL Day timeline
Thomas Gallaudet sets up the first school for Deaf children in the U.S.
It is decided that students should receive oral education instead of sign language education.
Deaf athletes can take part in sporting events on an international level.
She becomes the first Deaf woman to be crowned Miss America.
National ASL Day FAQs
Why is National ASL Day on April 15th?
National ASL Day is a day of observance celebrating American Sign Language. On April 15, 1817, the first school for the deaf in the United States opened.
Is it true that A.S.L. is the third-most used language in the U.S.?
Approximately 500,000 people of all ages throughout the U.S. use the language to communicate. A.S.L. is the third most commonly used language in the United States, after English and Spanish.
How many people in the U.S. are deaf in 2021?
Fewer than one in 20 Americans are currently deaf or hard of hearing. This means that nearly 10,000,000 persons are hard of hearing and close to 1,000,000 are functionally deaf.
National ASL Day Activities
Learn the language
Celebrate National ASL Day by learning American Sign Language. You can join a language class or learn the language online. Do your bit of making language inclusive and accessible.
Set a challenge
Challenge your friends and family to learn at least 10 words in American Sign Language. On National ASL Day, each of you can mime the words and ask the others to guess — sort of like charades! The challenge can be a fun way to learn the language.
Spread the word
Talk about National ASL Day on your social media accounts. Spread the word about American Sign Language and encourage your online friends to learn the language too. You can also post a video of you using sign language to send a message to your followers!
5 Facts About Sign Language That Will Blow Your Mind
It is widely used
Around 70 million people use some version of sign language.
There is grammar in sign language too
They are usually indicated by the movement of eyebrows.
There are different versions of it
Some sign languages incorporate local dialects as well.
They are not very difficult to learn
With proper guidance, a person can pick up sign language rather quickly.
Fourth-most spoken language in the U.K.
More than 1,25,000 people in the U.K. use sign language.
Why We Love National ASL Day
It celebrates inclusivity
National ASL Day celebrates American Sign Language, which has truly made language inclusive and accessible to people with speech and hearing impairments. The language is responsible for making communication easier.
It makes us considerate
National ASL Day is celebrated by encouraging people to learn and communicate in American Sign Language. This act of empathy makes us considerate towards the impairments and needs of others.
It celebrates achievements of the community
National ASL Day is also a celebration of the many spectacular achievements of the deaf and mute community. On National ASL Day, we honor every pioneer whose inventions have made life easier for the differently-abled.
National ASL Day dates