World Languages

American Sign Language

Published: 11/22/2022 2:26 PM


American Sign Language

From the National Association of the Deaf: “American Sign Language (ASL) is a visual language. When signing, the brain processes linguistic information through the eyes. The shape, placement, and movement of the hands, as well as facial expressions and body movements, all play important parts in conveying information. Sign language is not a universal language -- each country has its own sign language, and regions have dialects, much like the many languages spoken all over the world. Like any spoken language, ASL is a language with its own unique rules of grammar and syntax. Like all languages, ASL is a living language that grows and changes over time.”

Recognition as a World Language

The state of Kentucky officially recognizes ASL as a World Language per KRS 164.4785, and the Kentucky Department of Education officially recognizes ASL credits as an elective in High School.


The growing popularity of ASL has made the need for learning standards imperative. The Standards for Learning American Sign Language was made possible through the collaborative effort of the American Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA) and the National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers (NCIEC), with the encouragement and additional financial support of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).

The standards are intended for teachers and administrators of American Sign Language in K-16 educational settings. They do not constitute a curriculum or syllabus and should be applied with flexibility in mind. The standards reflect the framework of communicative modes as established by ACTFL and incorporate the goals of the 5 C’s of foreign language instruction—Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities. The standards follow a spiraling methodology, with topics and skills visited and revisited with increasing complexity as learners develop greater proficiency.

Administrators, ASL teachers, and curriculum developers are encouraged to use these standards in the development and revision of current and future ASL programs. The sample progress indicators contained in these standards can be adapted for learners with different backgrounds and levels. The standards are also applicable to heritage learners. The progress indicators include benchmarks for knowledge and performance of ASL learning at grade levels K, 4, 8, 12, and 16. One purpose of the publication and dissemination of these standards is to facilitate the inclusion of ASL in curriculums at all levels of education.

Services from Kentucky Department of Education

For more information on Blind-VI and Deaf-HH services provided by the Kentucky Department of Education visit the KDE Blind-VI and Def-HH Services webpage.

Please contact the world languages team with any questions.​

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