Learning American Sign Language: Books, Media, and Classes
This Info to Go document, compiled at the Clerc Center, connects to resources about learning ASL, including where to find ASL classes.
About Learning ASL
American Sign Language (ASL) is visual language used by members of the North American Deaf community. ASL has its own unique rules of grammar and syntax. The shape, placement, and movement of the hands, as well as facial expressions and body movement, all play an important role in conveying information. ASL is not a universal language; similar to spoken languages, signed languages develop naturally in their own regions or countries.
Enrolling in sign language classes and meeting people who are deaf and use ASL, are the best ways to learn the language. These approaches will enhance the learning experience and provide opportunities to practice and develop fluency in a conversational setting. There are on-line resources, books, and other media, however that can support ASL learning.
Locating Classes: American Sign Language
Many sign language classes are offered throughout the country. While it is not possible to keep records of all locations, we can recommend that you check with places most likely either to offer classes or have information about them:
- Community colleges/universities
- Libraries (some libraries are clearing houses for community activities)
- Adult education/continuing education programs
- Vocational rehabilitation services (most states have a coordinator of services for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing)
- Recreation and community centers (YWCA, YMCA)
- State and county department of public instruction, education, or special education
- Religiously affiliated organizations
- State schools for children who are deaf
- Interpreters for people who are
- Organizations/groups by, and for, individuals who are deaf
- State offices/commissions for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing
- National Association of the Deaf
The annual reference issue of the American Annals of the Deaf includes a comprehensive list of schools for deaf students and services for deaf people. These schools and programs would be good contacts for question about the availability of sign language classes. Check your library for a copy or contact: American Annals of the Deaf.
If you live in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, we have a list of programs that may offer ASL classes: Washington, D.C. Area ASL Classes (PDF).
ASL Resources and Media
ASL Standards and Assessments
K-12 ASL Content Standards
Standards for learning ASL that cover expected skills development from kindergarten through 12th grade. Includes viewing, published signing, discourse and presentation, language, fingerspelling and fingerreading (similar to ELA standards for reading, writing and publishing, speaking and listening, and language). Anchor standards for viewing include ASL literature, ASL informational texts, and ASL foundational skills.
Organization focusing on developing and providing ASL resources to support curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Resources are curated by a team of ASL teachers, professors, administrators, specialists, and researchers from multiple states.
Sign Language Assessment Instruments
List of assessments focusing on sign language skills. Includes American Sign Language as well as other sign languages, organized into four categories: L1 development, L2 learning, linguistic research, and cognitive development.
Apps for Learning ASL
ASDC suggestions to support family learning of ASL
The ASL App
The ASL App (ASL for the People), is about teaching conversational ASL. It includes over 1,000 signs and phrases for adults as well as ASL with Care Bears for kids to learn ASL.
ASL Apps List from the New Mexico School for the Deaf
List of apps to teach signing developed at the New Mexico School for the Deaf. It includes apps for children, adults, and low vision/blind children, to teach the manual alphabet and support literacy, and books to download.
Four ASL apps
This website links to four popular apps to learn ASL: iASL, ASL Pro, Sign 4 Me, and ASL Dictionary.
This app highlights video demonstrations of Marlee Matlin teaching the basics of ASL, including the signed alphabet, basic vocabulary, and common expressions in everyday life.
VL2 Storybook Apps
Apps, developed by the Visual Language Visual Learning Center (VL2) at Gallaudet, providing interactive stories in both American Sign Language (ASL) and English.
ASL Basics for Hearing Parents of Deaf Children
Book and DVD to guide hearing families in learning ASL.
ASL Connect leverages the latest in video and digital technology to provide a rich suite of online offerings available to the public. These offerings include ASL levels one through four online, an ASL certificate program, a nationally used ASL Placement Test, ASL coaching and individualized tutoring, massive open online course (MOOC)-style lessons, and a resource center that serves as a clearinghouse for information about ASL and Deaf Culture.
This subscription-based website provides ASL video lessons. The content is for anyone who wishes to learn ASL, regardless of age. It has been designed to instruct deaf students, parents of deaf children, and the community-at-large. You may cancel your subscription at any time. Nationally certified interpreters teach all lessons.
This is an online video library of ASL literature and ASL linguistics research.
ASL and English Bilingual Consortium for Early Childhood Education: Video Gallery
Links to several rhymes and stories in American Sign Language provided by the National ASL and English Bilingual Consortium for Early Childhood Education.
ASL Online Dictionaries, Texts, Videos, and Learning Resources
This is a resource for families learning ASL. It includes ASL words, pictures, and stories.
This website was created as a free resource for classroom teachers. It includes a main dictionary, religious signs dictionary, ASL for babies dictionary, and ASL and fingerspelling quizzes.
American Sign Language (ASL) Stories/Songs
ASL Stories and songs developed by the Center on Literacy and Deafness.
Books and DVD packages accompanied by web-based instruction to teach fundamentals of ASL grammar, vocabulary, and syntax using children's stories.
This is an online curriculum resource for ASL students, instructors, interpreters, and parents of deaf children.
Bravo Family: Beginning ASL Course
Streaming lessons available through the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) to teach vocabulary, grammar and Deaf culture applied to the real world.
Center for Accessible Technology in Sign (CATS)
Free online resources inclusive of games, signed books, a dictionary and more. Developed as a joint project between the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf and the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP)
Free loan library funded by the U.S. Department of Education and supported by the National Association of the Deaf. This educational media is made accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing via captioning and to the blind and visually impaired via description. DCMP requires verified registration for full access but there are no registration or service fees.
Website dedicated to teaching ASL to children via signing rhymes and rhythms to young children. It includes sample videos and answers to frequently asked questions.
Sign with Robert
A sign language and Deaf culture educational series with 150 chapters and over 15 hours of video content. It covers a wide range of topics including science vocabulary, geography signs, and Deaf history and signing with babies and children.
A collaborative project of The Signing Time Foundation, and the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management (NCHAM) at Utah State University. Free access to Sign It ASL is made possible through support from various private foundations and the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau. It is an online curriculum to introduce ASL to parents of young children. Go to directly to the website, please visit http://signitasl.com/.
Links to resources (online and in other media forms) to facilitate ASL development with young children through Baby Signing Time and Signing Time for children. Included is a video series that teaches ASL signs for common words, questions, phrases, movements, colors, sports, days of the week, everyday objects, and common activities. It incorporates music with signs, songs, animation, and real signing children for everyday events like playtime, getting dressed, going places, getting ready for bed, and manners.
SignOn with ASDC
Online learning portal for families who want to learn American Sign Language in a virtual environment, with live mentoring by Deaf adults. Includes one-on-one practice, video playback, and flexible scheduling. Offered by the American Society for Deaf Children.
Signing Savvy is a sign language dictionary containing several thousand high resolution videos of American Sign Language (ASL) signs, fingerspelled words, and other common signs used within the United States and Canada. Signing Savvy includes the ability to build custom word lists and share them with others, create virtual flash cards and quizzes, print signs, build sign phrases, and much more!
Sign Media: ASL Fun
These resources promote experiences with ASL in stories for children, entertainment by famous Deaf performers, ASL poetry, and classic stories performed in ASL by master storytellers.
Sign With Me: A Family Sign Language Curriculum
Three-volume set of instructional videos with an accompanying workbook for teaching ASL to families. Volume one teaches signs and techniques for everyday conversations with a young deaf child; volume two teaches parents how to sign abstract concepts encountered daily by deaf toddlers, such as "funny," "soft," and "sticky," and volume three teaches how to use signs for praising and effectively disciplining a young deaf child.
Free online ASL classes available for instant download.
Teaching Signs for Baby Minds
DVDs with flashcards demonstrating how to use ASL to facilitate early language acquisition for babies.
Why I Sign
Videos and photos sharing narratives of family, childhood, and community experiences with American Sign Language and other sign languages. Contributors share their stories with the public via Why I Sign's Facebook and Instagram platforms using the hashtag #whyisign.
Master Tech ASL Dictionary
American Sign Language University - ASL Dictionary
Companies Selling ASL Books and Products
This e-retail site offers an extensive selection of books and resources to learn about ASL. Type "ASL books" in their search box and you will see a list of books, all with user reviews.
Boys Town Press
This publishing company provides numerous books and other media to assist in adult and child learning of ASL.
This educational materials publisher offers numerous books and other media to assist in adult and child learning of ASL.
Dawn Sign Press
This company offers materials in ASL, books about ASL, and more.
Gallaudet University Press
Gallaudet University Press sells a variety of ASL texts and other deaf-related resources.
Go Speak English Ltd.
This company allows interpreters, translators, teachers, students, companies, and language schools to connect with each other and teach or learn sign language all over the world.
This company offers books and other multimedia-related resources for learning ASL.
Institute for Disabilities, Research, and Training, Inc. (IDRT)
This company specializes in the development of ASL-accessible computer software and other assistive technology products.
Sign Media, Inc.
Sign Media produces video and text materials on ASL and American Deaf culture. Catalog: http://signmedia.com/info/cat.htm.
This company sells ASL texts and other books and resources about ASL and Deaf culture.