A fascinating article in the Washington Post details unique aspects of Black American Sign Language. Because of segregated schools Black ASL diverged from the sign language used in white deaf schools after the switch to oralism in the predominately white deaf schools. Ceil Lucas, one of the co-authors and a professor of linguistics at Gallaudet, says, “Black ASL could be considered the purer of the two forms, closer in some ways to the system that Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet promulgated when he founded the first U.S. school for the deaf — known at the time as the American Asylum for Deaf Mutes — in Hartford, Conn., in 1817.”
Lucas and three other professors have published a book and DVD called The Hidden Treasure of ASL.
Here’s some pictures from the book, via the Washington Post. Check it out.