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Explore the Signing Ecosystem

Connecting you to the Signing community around the world. The signing ecosystem provides a lifetime of opportunity for our signing communities to connect, discover, and influence.

Strengthening Equality Across Disparities

The signing ecosystem highlights the Deaf Ecosystem and allies working toward collective empowerment, emerging from diverse visual and tactile signed languages and cultures around the globe. Investing in our Signing Ecosystem results in us all thriving and becoming more self-reliant.

Social
Equity

Combating inequities in social environments including places of health/medicine, education, business and government by requiring more accessible and tolerant interactions.

Educational
Equity

Addressing educational disparities in primary/secondary and higher education by increasing visibility and accessibility for deaf children and students, and providing resources and guidance for educators, families, schools.

Workplace
Equity

Improving our interactions in the workplace environment by sharing tools and resources to make the workforce accessible and inclusive, leading to more jobs and hires of people in our communities.

Economic
Equity

Strengthening financial support, resources, and economic empowerment for deaf-owned businesses and businesses committed to accessible services and the welfare of our communities.

Race, Culture, and Language
Equity

Embracing the rich variety of backgrounds and origins in the worldwide signing ecosystem, acknowledging diversity in race, ethnicity, culture, and language, and fostering inclusion in our community.

Putting ourselves on the map

Connecting you with the Signing Ecosystem. Come build with us to put our collective mark on the world.

Sign Languages are for Everyone!

The Signing Ecosystem is global. Here you can see the important role that sign languages play in social, cultural, economic, and political life.

Everyone is welcome to the Signing Ecosystem

When more employers like Procter & Gamble recognize and invest in not only our community members but also in the #SigningEcosystem, everyone wins!

With gestures and, ultimately, Sign Language, we will flourish

Over 7,000 languages are spoken. Over 300 different sign languages are used. However, nonverbal communication accounts for around 70% of human communication.

Already in the Signing Ecosystem.

You may be already an ally, and just not know it. Apple’s corporate commitment to accessibility and diversity and hiring people with skills is simply unmatched.

The sign·ing ec·o·sys·tem

/T͟Hē,T͟Hə ˈsīniNG ˈēkōˌsistəm/

noun

The Signing Ecosystem encompasses the global community connected through visual and tactile signed languages, including the Deaf Ecosystem and its allies, united throughout:
    • Existing and emerging varieties of sign languages
    • Rich cultural backgrounds and origins
    • Conscious empowerment of each other
As an ecosystem, we all work together to advance the socioeconomic, ethical, and political betterment of deaf, deaf blind, deaf-disabled, and late-deafened people across the world.
Strengthen a network of millions of deaf people around the world, as well as businesses, organizations and institutions that embrace the signing ecosystem!
3rd

ASL is the most taught language in the U.S.

200-300
Sign Languages Worldwide

(UN)

$10.3

Billion ASL Economy in the U.S

61

Countries in the world that recognize sign language

(WFD)

The reality our community faces

2%
Less than 2% of 34 million deaf children worldwide receive access to a signed language in early childhood (WHO)
72%
Of parents of deaf children do not know sign language (Gallaudet, 2012)
70%
Of people with hearing loss are unemployed or underemployed (CSD)
80%
Of the 34 million children with disabling hearing loss around the world, the World Federation of the Deaf estimates 80% do not have access to education (WHO)

Hits and Misses in the Signing Ecosystem

Hits

Workplaces, services, and events such as conferences, concerts, and more, that already provide accessibility accommodations, or will gladly provide upon request

Hiring and supporting talented deaf artists and entrepreneurs

Learning ASL or any signed language to communicate with a deaf or hard of hearing person in your life

Understanding and accepting the wide variety of identities and accommodation needs across the deaf spectrum

Innovative technology solutions that elevate accessibility for large communities, not just for the deaf and hard of hearing

Allowing deaf and hard of hearing children the freedom to explore various communication methods that works best for them and their education
Previous
Next
Misses

Selling or teaching ASL or ASL-related products with no involvement or approval from deaf or hard of hearing perspectives

Glamorization of sign language interpreters or hearing people who use ASL with lack of recognition for deaf people themselves

Propaganda with misleading messages that prioritize assistive devices and the ability to hear as the only or cure-all solution for deaf and hard of hearing people

Perpetuating ill-conceived notions of deaf and hard of hearing people and assigning expectations based on common tropes and stereotypes

Denying sign language access for deaf children, which causes language deprivation, while popularizing the use of baby signs for hearing children

Depriving deaf and hard of hearing children’s opportunity to explore various communication modes, which restricts their growth and access to education
Previous
Next

Workplaces, services, and events such as conferences, concerts, and more, that already provide accessibility accommodations, or will gladly provide upon request

Selling or teaching ASL or ASL-related products with no involvement or approval from deaf or hard of hearing perspectives

Hiring and supporting talented deaf artists and entrepreneurs

Glamorization of sign language interpreters or hearing people who use ASL with lack of recognition for deaf people themselves

Learning ASL or any signed language to communicate with a deaf or hard of hearing person in your life

Propaganda with misleading messages that prioritize assistive devices and the ability to hear as the only or cure-all solution for deaf and hard of hearing people

Understanding and accepting the wide variety of identities and accommodation needs across the deaf spectrum

Denying sign language access for deaf children, which causes language deprivation, while popularizing the use of baby signs for hearing children

Innovative technology solutions that elevate accessibility for large communities, not just for the deaf and hard of hearing

Selling or teaching ASL or ASL-related products with no involvement or approval from deaf or hard of hearing perspectives

Why this matters?

Upwards of 70%

of the deaf population are either underemployed or unemployed, and often, deaf business owners face societal barriers and lack of entrepreneurial support, hindering their ability to grow their businesses.

A strengthened, united signing ecosystem

Will lead to social and economic influence, increasing retention and expansion of jobs, resources, and wealth within the signing community.

Combating exploitation and appropriation

Protecting the signing community’s collective wealth and opportunities means combating our resources from being exploited and dispersed into the larger society.

Building a foundation for longevity

And ensuring our community’s resources no longer leave our ecosystem means we can remain empowered with a growing positive impact on our socio-economic status.

Where all things are possible.

Being deaf is not something to overcome, but a process of understanding oneself, and building connections within and beyond the signing and deaf community. By extension, the Signing Ecosystem is a place where deaf individuals will find affirmative and positive acceptance of who they are and all they have to offer the world.

Gallaudet University and The Signing Ecosystem

For more than 150 years, Gallaudet University has been the political, social, and economic engine of our signing community. To that end, Gallaudet is a global change agent — a hub of the signing ecosystem, preparing our community members to flourish, and helping society to value and appreciate all that deaf people have to offer. Let’s work and grow together to make this ecosystem possible everywhere else in the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Signing Ecosystem encompasses the global community connected through visual and tactile signed languages, including the Deaf Ecosystem and its allies, united through :
  • Evolving proficiencies and modalities of sign language
  • Rich cultural backgrounds and origins
  • Conscious empowerment of each other
As an ecosystem, we all work together to advance the socioeconomic, ethical, and political betterment of deaf, hard of hearing, deaf blind, deaf-disabled, and late-deafened people across the world.
Some examples of a Signing Ecosystem are:
  • Deaf and hard of hearing-run businesses (Deaf Ecosystem); e., Streetcar 82 Brewing Co., Mozzeria, Crepe Crazy, Lost River Vacations, Kramer Wealth Managers, etc.
  • Educational institutions looking to add ASL programs to their curriculum, or considering the integration of a true bilingual teaching curriculum.
  • Businesses or other institutions interested in incorporating sign language-friendly or Deaf spaces to their buildings.
  • Businesses and corporations that find the value of the signing community as both customers and employers in adding deaf and hard of hearing people’s keen skills to the workforce.
  • Businesses can integrate into the signing ecosystem by offering internships, jobs, and sign-friendly workspaces to deaf and hard of hearing people.
  • Gallaudet University, considered a hub for deaf people, is the only university designated for deaf and hard of hearing students. Gallaudet practices bilingual teaching and learning, employs hundreds of deaf and hard of hearing people, and the Signing Starbucks in Washington, D.C. remodeled their H Street, NEstore to include elements of Deaf Space and culture. A lot of materials feature ASL concepts and the artwork was created by deaf people. The store employs deaf people, many of whom are Gallaudet students and graduates.
  • Apple Store at Carnegie Library, Apple’s newest flagship store, located in Washington, D.C., employs over 20 deaf and hard of hearing people team members with full-time on-site ASL interpreters for their deaf and hard of hearing staff members and to provide access to their free daily instructional sessions for the deaf and hard of hearing community.
Though similar in principle, the difference between the Deaf and Signing Ecosystems is that the Signing Ecosystem is meant to be more inclusive of all in the signing community, including their employers, friends, and educator colleagues. The Signing Ecosystem embraces those who are already associated, while reaching out to those who can benefit while expanding the community through the idea of embracing inclusionism.
The Signing Ecosystem brings awareness to deaf and hard of hearing people and sign languages, cultivates opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people, and advances the lives of deaf and hearing people on a broader scale.
Find unique ways to become more mindful and inclusive of deaf and hard of hearing people. Become more aware of what deaf and hard of hearing people and American Sign Language have to offer, as well as their inherent value and benefits. Reach out to us at Gallaudet for more information or a consultation.

Interested in learning more about the Signing Ecosystem or Gallaudet University?

Fill out the form with your information and we will be in touch!

2021 © THE SIGNING ECOSYSTEM by Gallaudet University

Admissions Requirements

Hearing Undergraduate