Is real language, language of the deaf community. Have grammar & lexicon (not corresponding to english) Unrelated to english/sign language in other english-countries (but france/non-english) # signed english is now regarded as an unnatural language. Thomas gallaudet & baurent clerc: introduced basic sign system from france 1817. Alexander graham bell: oralism: read lips and speck english (assimilationism) Based on english/street slang legitimate language (gallaudet university-deaf culture movement. Return oralism to signs, based on english grammar 1900s. Possibility of being fully proficient in spoken english/participate in mainstream society. Apply pattern of shift to dominant language or not; outside learner-openness. Similar: belonging to the group-identity; solidarity; own culture & language. Bilingual-bicultural approach: asl first, english as second language (like linguistic minority) Historical precedents: plains indian sign language; martha"s vineyard sign language. Rethink some fundamental issues: definition of human language/minority group/distinct culture. Discovering new possibilities for human expression, enhanced understanding of the nature of human language and community.