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American Sign Language ASL

Inclusion has become a buzzword of modern society. And for good reason. In Canada, inclusion means enabling all members of society to be free from prejudice, discrimination, or other barriers. We work to be inclusive in our industry by making video accessible to all. In honour of accessibility, today’s blog is about American Sign Language (ASL).

History of American Sign Language

The first North American school for the deaf was opened on April 15, 1817. In recognition of that event, today is ASL Day. Dr. Thomas Hopkins worked with a neighbour’s deaf daughter in 1814 and was inspired to learn more. Hopkins traveled to Europe, where there was a history of deaf education. The minister went on to found the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut in 1817.

Although it’s easy to assume that ASL is a subset of English, that’s not actually true. Signing uses hand, face, and body movements and is different from a spoken language. American Sign Language uses the English alphabet, but it has its own linguistic structure. Even word order—typically subject, verb, object in spoken English—is less rigid and linear in ASL.

Sign Languages Around the World

Did you know that there are 135 different sign languages around the world? These internationally-recognized languages have significant variations between countries. The English use British Sign Language and Australians use Australian sign language. Non-English speaking populations have their versions of sign language, too. There’s Spanish Sign Language, Japanese Sign Language, and Iranian Sign Language just to name a few. There are even dialects within ASL and other sign languages. This video is an excellent introduction to sign language and some of its forms.


American Sign Language in Canada

There are two versions of sign language commonly used in Canada: American Sign Language and Langue des Signes Québécoise (LSQ). These languages are used in Anglophone and Francophone communities, respectively, and each has regional variations referred to as “dialects” or “accents”.  Indigenous Sign Language (ISL) and Maritimes Sign Language are two other languages used by populations in Canada. Advocates have pushed to recognize sign language as one of Canada’s official languages. The precedent for such recognition has already been set in more than 45 other countries.

Videos Using ASL

Key West Video has options to make your video inclusive. Last year, we worked with the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services on two informational videos. They asked us to create both ASL and LSQ versions of the final project. Here’s an example of one of the videos.


We also created a video for the restaurant Signs. It was an eatery with a truly unique interpretation of interactive dining.

Sign Off

Video is an engaging, effective way to reach an audience. Ask for final versions with captions, transcripts, translation, or even ASL. That way, everybody is included. Get in touch with us today for a free quote on your accessible video.

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