William Stokoe

August 24, 2017
Category: Submitted Posts

By: Brittany Pare (10/30/16)

My favorite person from Deaf history is William Stokoe because he was able to prove that Sign Language was a real language, not just a translation of English. This was an incredibly important milestone for the Deaf community because it allowed for American Sign Language to be recognized as a national language and used in schools to education Deaf Students. It is also important because it allows for people to learn it (just like with StartASL) like any other language. Proving that ASL has its own unique syntax and grammar also adds to the Deaf Culture because it proves that Deaf individuals are not just translating English, but using their own unique language.  ASL is the cornerstone of Deaf Culture and having their own language helps set their culture apart from the hearing culture.

It could be argued that William Stokoe also opened the door for Total Communication philosophy because sign, as well as speech and lipreading could be used all together in the classroom to give each student what he or she needed. Without William Stokoe, using ASL in the classroom and teaching ASL in a classroom setting would be much further behind where it is today. I often have to “stand up” for ASL when people tell me it is just another form of English and its 2016 so I understand why William Stokoe’s work was so important in the 1960s.