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ASL: Access, Benefits, and Quality Rosen true today), deaf children have relied on schools for the deaf to access ASL. The fact that schools for the deaf were residential was helpful. Erting and Kuntze (2008) explained that the school dormitories served as the sites where deaf children socialized and acquired ASL. Signing staff at the schools played the role of surrogate parents and promoted the transmission of ASL over generations. Although few in number, deaf children from deaf parents who used ASL at home also helped ensure that all deaf children at the school became signers. More discussion on deaf children of deaf parents will follow in the latter part of this paper. It was not until the latter part of the nineteenth century, when oralism took hold in most deaf schools, that the language of instruction was changed from ASL to spoken, i.e., oral and aural, English. As history confirms, signing and sign language itself could not be eradicated, due to deaf individuals’ natural desire to become signers. The human capacity for language underlies the power of ASL for deaf individuals. The introduction of oralism began with the establishment of day schools for the deaf in metropolitan areas in the mid-nineteenth century. The proliferation of oralism within schools for the deaf occurred after it was given legitimization as a language of pedagogy at the International Conference in the Education of the Deaf in Milan, Italy in 1880 (Baynton, 1996). There were a variety of responses to oralism in schools for the deaf in America (Van Cleve & Couch, 1989). One response was that the schools, such as the Nebraska School for the Deaf, transformed from completely manual to completely oral. The second response was the establishment of two separate departments within a school, such as the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, a manualist department, and an oralist department. The third response was that schools, such as the New York School for the Deaf, maintained its manualist approach, but offered a number of classes in articulation. During the rise and dominance of oralism in the field of deaf education, ASL went underground. However, it was the continuing operation of schools for the deaf where deaf students assembled and learned ASL regardless of the policy. Oralism was strongest when in the classroom. The dorm settings and playgrounds at the deaf schools continued to provide opportunities for deaf students for a signing environment. Clearly, the cost of diverting deaf education from signing to speaking was enormous and counter-intuitive. Had history been different and more accommodating to sign language, perhaps developments like a writing system for ASL could have been facilitated. Nover and Ruiz (1995) are correct in pointing out the importance of language planning for ASL, especially in its codification. Only recently (in the 21st century) have educators and scholars debated the question of ASL literacy and directions for how ASL should be represented on paper (Grushkin, 2017; Hopkins, 2008; Miller, 2001; Rosen, Hartman, & Wang, 2017; S. Supalla, J. H. Cripps, & Byrne, 2017; van der Hulst & Channon, 2010). Beyond the pre-college level, Gallaudet University also played an important role for ASL as a language when established as the National Deaf-Mute College in 1865. Deaf students from all corners of the U.S. came to study, exchanging and homogenizing local signs, and bringing new signs home to their local deaf communities. Through Gallaudet graduates, ASL became a national sign language, although some regional dialects persisted. It was not until the 1960s that ASL linguistic structures began to be researched by linguists (Stokoe, 1960; Stokoe, Casterline, & Croneberg, 1965), and ASL was proven to be a bona fide language by the 1980s (Klima & Bellugi, 1979; Liddell, 1980; Padden, 1981; Wilbur, 1979). ASL, in spite of its distinct modality from spoken languages, shares linguistic features that are universal for spoken languages (Fischer & Siple, 1990; Fromkin, 1988; Neidle, Kegel, MacLaughlin, Bahan, & Lee, 2000; Sandler & Lillo- Martin, 2006). William C. Stokoe, a professor at Gallaudet University, was credited with starting sign language research work. This validation of ASL, coupled with the civil rights movement by SASLJ, Vol. 1, No. 1 – Fall/Winter 2017 9