Skip to Main Content

American Sign Language and Deaf Culture

ODHH Independent Living Resources

Work in Progress

American Sign Language (ASL) is an entirely visual language that uses signs made by moving the hands combined with facial expressions and postures of the body. With its own grammar and syntax, ASL cannot be directly translated, word for word, to English and vice versa. ASL is the primary language of many North Americans who are Deaf and is one of several communication options used by people who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

Enrolling in sign language classes and meeting people who use ASL is the best way to learn ASL. These approaches will enhance the learning experience and provide opportunities to practice and develop fluency in conversational settings. Classes are often offered at local community colleges and through Deaf organizations. There are also many books and other media that can support your ASL learning.

Maryland Governor’s Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Resources


Virtual Directory NEW!

Policies & Resource Guides

Resource Guide: Early Hearing Detection and Intervention

Community Resources


Deaf Culture Digital Library – coming soon

Maryland School for the Deaf

Gallaudet University: Visual Language and Visual Learning


ASL Nook
American Sign Language University: Online Dictionary
Northeast Technical Assistance Center: Deaf Culture
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders: American Sign Language
Signing Savvy ASL Dictionary