SASL Newsletter - Winter 2017 Issue Issue 8 - Winter 2017

The Power of ASL A Society Supporting Language, Literacy, and Performing Arts in the Signed Modality Winter 2017 A Newsletter of the Society for American Sign Language Issue 8 The Library of Congress (LoC) inducted Preservation of the Sign Language (Preservation) to its National Film Registry in 2010. The registry, established in 1988, is tasked by Congress with collecting and preserving films considered “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" that “reflect who we are as a people and as a nation (LoC).” Preservation’s inclusion on the list cements deaf culture as an important part of U.S. heritage. Listed alongside canonical films familiar to many: Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, and Citizen Kane, the 2010 class included Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Malcolm X, and Saturday Night Fever (NAD Mailing List). Twenty-five films are selected every year. Preservation is a film recording of speech in American Sign Language (ASL) orated by George Veditz in 1913. President of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) from 1910 through 1913, Veditz was considered a master signer and powerful orator by his contemporaries. He delivered a passionate speech in which he extolled the virtues of sign language, argued for its role in advancing deaf people’s status as citizens, offered a staunch defense for the place of sign language in deaf education, and most important, instilled hope in his audience that sign language would survive the onslaught of attacks from those who wished to see sign language eradicated. Defiantly, Veditz asserts sign language would remain on earth as long as deaf people existed, and he ends the speech by declaring “sign language as the noblest gift God has given to deaf people” (Padden, 2004, p. 245). The film captures an important movement in deaf history. As early as the eighteenth century, deaf people across the globe participated in campaigns to protect sign language from a global drive to eradicate sign language and deaf communities (Baynton 1996; Burch, 2004). Established in 1880, the NAD took part in those campaigns from its inception, with impassioned speeches in favor of sign language dominating the association’s national conferences. In the early twentieth century, film emerged as a new technology for capturing motion and a natural medium for recording ASL. The membership of the NAD passed a resolution in 1910 to take advantage of this new technology as another front in their battle against oralism. Deaf elites were also grumbling about the deterioration of sign language caused by oral education and generational change, (Continue on page 4) The Power of ASL 1 Winter 2017 – Issue 8