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American Sign Language Science

Georgetown University via edX Professional Certificate


The program integrates the history of American Sign Language (ASL) with research that has been done on the structure, learning, and historical change of ASL and other sign languages. In this program, you will learn how sign languages are structured and how these structures vary. It also looks at how children and adults acquire the ability to understand and use sign language. The program takes a deep dive into recent research on how sign languages have come into existence and how they change as they are used over generations of deaf and hearing users. In addition, this program serves as a resource that helps students process new information, including cutting-edge research.

The program is divided into four parts, each exploring different aspects of sign language. The program will introduce students to the science of sign language research and, for the fluent ASL signer, the history and structure of their own language. The content exposes students to an intermediate level in the fields of linguistics and cognitive sciences.


Courses under this program:
Course 1: Sign Language Science: Emergence and Evolution of Sign Language

This course connects the emergence and evolution of signed languages to the history of the people who use these languages. You will learn this concept in depth, especially the legacy and heritage of American Sign Language (ASL).

Course 2: Sign Language Science: Factors Contributing to Nature Structure

This course details the development of the type of grammar that occurs whenever a group of people develops and uses a signed language.

Course 3: Sign Language Science: Factors Contributing to Natural Learning

This course promotes a better understanding of the factors that may affect how people learn signed language.

Course 4: Sign Language Science: Factors Contributing to Natural Change

This course describes how we use historical data to demonstrate language change. While earliest indications suggest that the origin of a signed language began as a gestural form, it has evolved as it was handed down.

Taught by

Ted Supalla


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