[Layout Image: No Content]
Gallaudet Univeristy
Decorative Graphic: No content.

ASL-English Bilingual Education

This information is part of an online guide, Resources for Mainstream Programs

The goal of ASL-English bilingual education is language proficiency in both ASL and English. ASL, a visual gestural language with its own grammar and syntax, is a complete language that differs from sign systems used to clarify English. Fingerspelling (use of a manual alphabet to spell words) can be actively integrated into ASL for proper names and other terms for which there are no generally accepted signs. English can be addressed through both print and spoken English. Strategies to address the development of spoken English vary based on each child's potential to access auditory information.

ASL/English bilingual education includes "signacy" (developing proficiency in ASL), "literacy" (developing proficiency in English print), and "oracy" (developing English through both oral communication and fingerspelling of English words). ASL/English bilingual education stresses the importance of keeping each language separate to promote growth and development in each language. It does not support simultaneous communication (the simultaneous use of signs with spoken language) as the concurrent use of both often results in a degradation of both ASL as a language and English as a language. Within ASL/English bilingual education, strategies are incorporated that help students make links between ASL and English.


Frequently Asked Questions: ASL/English Bilingual Programming and Early Childhood Education (PDF), from the Clerc Center.

Center for ASL/English Bilingual Education and Research

Cummins, J. (2006). The Relationship between American Sign Language proficiency and English academic development: A review of the research. Toronto: University of Toronto.

Graney, S. (1997). Where does speech fit in? Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Pre-College National Mission Programs.

National Association of the Deaf: American Sign Language.

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders: American Sign Language.

Mahshie, S. N. (1997). A first language: Whose Choice Is It? Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center.

Mahshie, S. N. (1995). Educating deaf children bilingually. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Pre-College National Mission Programs. Available through the Clerc Center Products catalog.