SASL Newsletter - Summer 2016 Issue

The Power of ASL A So ci et y Supp o rti ng L angua ge, L it erac y, and Perf orm ing Art s in t he Si gne d Mo da li ty Summer 2016 A Newsletter of the Society for American Sign Language Issue 2 By  Deirdre  Schlehofer,  Rochester  Institute  of  Technology The Society for American Sign Language (SASL) is actively working on how to join the Modern Language Association (MLA) as an allied organization, which represents a professional association whose interests encompasses disciplines represented by the MLA and whose purposes and activities are closely allied to those of the MLA. One of the SASL’s goals is to host special sessions during the annual MLA convention that can attract the maximum number of MLA members who share their interests in ASL, linguistics, literature, and history (click here for the MLA mission statement). History of Past MLA Conferences Related to Deaf / ASL Studies In the past, several scholars from universities presented their works on Deaf / ASL Studies at the MLA annual conventions, but this area appeared to slack off only recently. How did this story evolve? Representing the University of Rochester’s ASL Program, faculty members Norma Tourangeau and Guillaume Chastel, who are both Deaf and teach Deaf Studies in the undergraduate program, attended the 2014 MLA Annual Convention in Chicago and soon discovered that the MLA sessions did not include ASL, even though ASL is the 4th most popular language / scholarly study program in the United States. They raised the concern about the lack of visibility that attracted immediate attention from MLA President David Goldberg and MLA Director of Programs and Association of Departments of Foreign Languages (ADFL) Dennis Looney who were present at their conference session. Dr. Goldberg approached Ms. Tourangeau and Mr. Chastel about improving the visibility and asked them to help the MLA by inviting ASL scholars to host special sessions focusing on the field of Deaf / ASL studies. They ensured that special sessions on ASL would be reserved in the near future. In turn, Ms. Tourangeau and Mr. Chastel contacted Professors Sam Supalla from University of Arizona, Ben Bahan from Gallaudet University, and Deirdre Schlehofer from … (Continued to page 4) The Power of ASL 1 Summer 2016 – Issue 2