Drafted by David Perlmutter

5 January 2001: Approved by members attending the 75th Annual Business Meeting, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Washington, DC

1 July 2001: Adopted by LSA membership in a mail ballot

The Linguistic Society of America affirms that sign languages used by deaf communities are full-fledged languages with all the structural characteristics and range of expression of spoken languages. They have rule-governed systems of articulation, word formation, sentence structure, and meaning, which have been the subject of modern scholarly study since the pioneering work of William Stokoe (1919-2000) over forty years ago. These languages are not merely a set of informal gestures, nor are they a signed version of any particular spoken language. American Sign Language, the language of deaf communities in the United States and most of Canada, goes back almost two hundred years and is historically and structurally unrelated to spoken English. It is also the vehicle of a distinguished deaf culture and has a tradition of visual literature.

The LSA affirms for signed languages such as ASL all the rights and privileges attendant to any spoken languages, including the right to satisfy a student's academic foreign language requirement, just as Spanish, Chinese, Navajo, or any other spoken language can. Because communication through language is a basic human need and right, the LSA supports laws that ensure interpreters for deaf people in their interactions with hearing people who do not sign. We also encourage American educational institutions at all levels to create opportunities for learning ASL so that those in regular contact with members of the deaf community can study and learn ASL, and to foster the study of ASL by supporting research on it and by developing educational degree programs for teachers of ASL, for interpreters of ASL, and for those interested in ASL Studies.

Drafted by the 2001 LSA Annual Meeting Resolutions Committee. Endorsed by members attending the 2001 Annual Business Meeting, 5 January 2001, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Washington, DC. Passed by mail-in ballot of LSA membership, 1 July 2001.

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