Segments in this Video

ASL Performers (02:05)


Kasiem Walters performs at Busboys and Poets. Michai Hanley reflects on exposure to the Black Deaf ASL community. Facial expressions are a significant part of Black ASL.

Black ASL (02:32)

Sign language is not universal; Black ASL is one variety of the communication system. Signers cite various qualities and aspects.

The Roots of Variation (02:49)

Formal education and deaf schools for black community members begin to emerge after the Civil War. Segregated education leads to a different language. Carolyn McCaskill recalls struggling to understand teachers at a white deaf school and feeling embarrassed about her signs.

Signing Black (04:23)

Evon Black uses bigger motions when signing. In some ways, Black ASL is more traditional than White ASL. Signers reflect on sign form differences between older and younger generations; Dean Perry no longer learns Black signs.

Transformation (05:18)

Younger generations have unique African-American English expressions. Experts discuss vocabulary, gestural and behavioral tendencies, and facial expressions; geographical and social factors help create variety.

Code Switching (03:16)

Warren "Wawa" Snipe changes communication styles depending on his surroundings. Signers discuss perceptions of Black ASL and communicating in different environments.

Interpreting (04:37)

Candas Barnes explains aspects of interpreting ASL. Signers share stories of watching interpreters and church experiences. Catching cultural nuances is important.

Legacy (01:37)

Black ASL is rich in culture and history, and provides a sense of pride. Language is an expression of perseverance.

Credits: Signing Black in America (00:42)

Credits: Signing Black in America

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Signing Black in America

Part of the Series : Talking Black in America
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



This is the first documentary about Black ASL: the unique dialect of American Sign Language (ASL) that developed within historically segregated African American Deaf communities. Black ASL today conveys an identity and sense of belonging that mirrors spoken language varieties of the African American hearing community. The program highlights the different uses of space, hand use, directional movement, and facial expression, which are ways that Black ASL distinguishes itself as a vibrant dialect of American Sign Language. The African American Deaf community is now embracing their unique variety as a symbol of solidarity and a vital part of their identity. 


Length: 28 minutes

Item#: EDP207032

ISBN: 978-1-64867-935-3

Copyright date: ©2021

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.