This is the "Library resources" page of the "American Sign Language Research Guide" guide.
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American Sign Language Research Guide   Tags: deaf, research guide  

This page lists information sources and suggests research strategies on topics related to American Sign Language.
Last Updated: Sep 14, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Library resources Print Page


Books are good places to get in-depth information and the historical background of a topic. Books are not good places to find very recent information, except for current directories and handbooks. Hint: Don't forget to check the bibliography (list of resources) at the end of most books to find other suggestions of where to find information!

To find the Gallaudet Library's books about American Sign Language, you can start with the Library Catalog. Try one of the following search terms, select Keyword (AND/OR/NOT) in the "Search By:" list, and click on the Search button:

  • "american sign language"
  • ameslan
  • ASL

To find more specific aspects of ASL, try adding a word for that aspect to your Keyword (AND/OR/NOT) search. Some examples are:

  • "american sign language" AND communication
  • "american sign language" AND children AND deaf
  • "american sign language" AND education AND deaf
  • "american sign language" AND history

Remember that phrases (more than one word that go together) must be in quote marks.



You can find articles in periodicals (magazines and journals) using online databases or printed indexes. Printed indexes are increasingly rare, however, because a good amount of this information has migrated online. You can look through our Guide to Databases by Subject to get an idea of where to look, or use our Index to Deaf Periodicals for a historical overview.

Online Databases

Try using the following term in a Basic Search:

  • american sign language

Very often, what turns up can be pretty confusing, but if you pay close attention to the results that appear, you may find a few clues that will help you find more information. Articles in online databases often include "headings" or "subjects," which are words that describe what the article is about. Clicking on one of those words will lead to more articles about the same topic. You can also combine those words into a single search to focus specifically on the topic you need.

Printed Indexes

The Gallaudet University Library index to deaf periodicals database, available through the Library's web site,, or directly at, can tell you where to find many articles on ASL in several popular deaf periodicals. Use the Browse...Subject headings:

  • American Sign Language
  • Sign language

Other resources


DVDs and videotapes are available through the Gallaudet University Library, and viewing equipment is also available onsite. The collection includes videos designed to teach sign language, as well as videos that provide examples of people expressing themselves in ASL. You can find videos about ASL in the Library's Catalog. Use these terms in a Keyword search:

  • "american sign language" AND videorecording


The Archives has information and materials related to the history of deafness and of Gallaudet University. There is not much about American Sign Language in the Archives, because it is a relatively new field of research. However, you can ask the Archives staff to show you materials on the history of ASL and on the manual codes used by deaf people in the past. All of these materials must be used in the Archives; you cannot borrow them. The normal Archives hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Evening hours can be arranged by appointment, at least two weeks in advance. The Archives is closed weekends and on University holidays.

Deaf Subject Files in the Archives

Vertical files include materials such as newspaper clippings, brochures, maps, poetry, and other non-book printed materials. To find vertical file materials about ASL, look in the Deaf Subject Files on the first floor of the Library, next to the Deat Stacks. These files are kept locked. To use them, ask a Library staff member for help. Try the following subject headings:

  • American Sign Language
  • Sign Language

Colleges and Universities Accepting ASL for Course Credit

Listings of universities and colleges in the United States and Canada that accept ASL as meeting part or all of their foreign language requirements may be found on the Internet, often written by Sherman Wilcox of the University of New Mexico, such as this one (PDF).


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