American sign language: a language in which meaning is conveyed by hand gestures and their position in relation to the upper part of the body ASL

1972, acronym of Ame(rican) S(ign) Lan(guage), known by that name since 1960, but its history goes back to 1817, evolving from French Sign Language (introduced at American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Conn.) and indigenous sign languages, especially that of Martha’s Vineyard. [See “Everyone Here Spoke Sign Language,” Nora Ellen Groce, Harvard University Press, 1985]
American Sign Language


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