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Documenting the ASL communities: MoLo and O5S5 projects

Julie A. Hochgesang, Gallaudet University

April 19, 2023 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · via Zoom

Program in Linguistics

As a deaf linguist in North America, my recent work has revolved around documenting the language use of the ASL communities in North America. In my presentation, I first describe some of the motivations that drive my documentation work with ASL communities – ethics of working with signed language communities; lack of inclusion of signed languages in general linguistics (even and especially those that discuss “all human languages”); that there’s no single ASL community but rather ASL communities; the lack of conventionalized written system for ASL. Then I describe two current documentation projects – “Motivated Look at Indicating Verbs in ASL (MoLo)” and “Documenting the experiences of the ASL communities in the time of COVID-19 (O5S5)” which I am working on sharing as open access. The work I do is because of the ASL communities and I consider myself a member of these communities. I try my best to honor the language and communities by documenting it with care and rigor and thinking about the power of representation and accessibility, which I’ll reflect upon throughout my presentation.

Julie A. Hochgesang (/ˈhoʊkˌsæŋ/) is a professor of Linguistics at Gallaudet University. She is a deaf* linguist who specializes in phonetics and phonology of signed languages, fieldwork, documentation, and corpora of signed languages, and ethics of working with signed language communities. Professor Hochgesang also works towards making linguistics accessible to the communities, especially the ASL communities, sharing multimodal products via social media and digital repositories.  She has contributed to ongoing efforts to create accessible collections for the ASL communities, most notably as active maintainer of the ASL Signbank. Her most recent ASL documentation projects include the “Philadelphia Signs Project”. “Motivated Look at Indicating Verbs in ASL (MoLo)”, “Gallaudet University Documentation of ASL (GUDA)”, and “Documenting the Experiences of the ASL communities in the time of COVID-19 (O5S5 – ASL name derived from ASL variants for “Document COVID”).  


*white, sighted, hearing family, early signer, cisgender

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