The ASL Program in the Department of Linguistics is pleased to announce the ASL Lecture Series event for Spring 2020:  Dr. Joseph Hill, Assistant Professor at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Rochester, NY, will give a presentation titled, “The Past, Present, and Future of Black ASL” on Thursday, March 5, from 5-6:30 PM in Meyerson Hall, B-1. The abstract for the presentation and Dr. Hill’s bio can be found below.


Light refreshments will be served following the talk and a social hour will continue until 7:00. 

The lecture will be presented in ASL; voice interpretation will be provided for non-signing audience members.


For questions, please contact Jami Fisher, Director of the ASL Program, Department of Linguistics:  jami@upenn.edu  

This event is free and open to the public.  Please feel free to share with anyone who might be interested.


Our thanks to Wolf Humanities Center and Deaf-Hearing Communications Centre for their generous co-sponsorship of this event.



The historical and linguistic changes in Black ASL align with the U.S. educational, political, and cultural landscapes which are identified as the sociolinguistic and geographical factors in the formation of Black ASL. As the recognizable part of the linguistic structure of Black ASL, phonology, morphology, and discourse are the features that make it a distinct variety of ASL based on the publications in 1970s and 2010s. The presentation concludes with the future directions in the study of Black ASL that continues to evolve over time with the ever shifting culture and ideology. 


Dr. Hill is a co-author of the 2011 Gallaudet University Press volume on the African-American variety of ASL, The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL: Its History and Structure. He is proud to be a part of the Black ASL research team because the history and language of the African-American Deaf Community deserves a closer look from the scholarly perspective. He also published a book in 2012, Language Attitudes in the American Deaf Community, which is a study of the factors of judgments and attitudes expressed by deaf and hard-of-hearing signers regarding the different types of signing that exist in the American Deaf community.

Dr. Hill is a co-editor for the Journal of ASL and Literature published by ASLized. He also serves on board of Discovering Deaf Worlds, whose mission is to advance the self-determination of signing Deaf communities through local capacity building in developing countries.


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