National Association of the Deaf

American Sign Language



The NAD values deaf and hard of hearing Americans with diverse perspectives, experiences, and abilities. We embrace diversity and inclusiveness as core values in achieving our mission. It is the philosophy of the NAD that diversity encompasses a wide range of human abilities and perspectives. The NAD is committed to building and maintaining an inclusive environment where differences of opinions, beliefs, and values are sought, respected, and valued.

The NAD recognizes that American Sign Language (ASL) is the backbone of the American deaf culture. The NAD values the acquisition, usage and preservation of ASL and is a recognized leader in promoting the acquisition, learning, teaching, and interpreting of ASL. The NAD was created in part to promote and preserve ASL as a legitimate language and an optimal educational tool for deaf children and adults.

Developments in the field of linguistics and an emerging body of research in education have validated the historical views of the NAD on ASL and its value in the education of deaf and hard of hearing children. The inherent capability of children to acquire ASL should be recognized and used to enhance their cognitive, academic, social, and emotional development. Accordingly, the NAD supports the bilingual approach for deaf and hard of hearing children. Deaf and hard of hearing children must have the right to receive early and full exposure to ASL as a primary language, along with English. Studies have shown that when deaf and hard of hearing children are exposed to ASL at an early age, they are given the opportunity to reach their full potential.

For these children to truly benefit, we encourage people to become fluent and skilled users, teachers, and interpreters of ASL. Moreover, we welcome everyone to experience learning and using ASL. We believe that ASL is beneficial to all people, of all ages.

We value ASL. We hope you do, too.

Related Issues:  Early Intervention for Infants and Toddlers; and Education.

Recent NAD Action Highlights

  • Approved ASL Position Statement (2008), reaffirming that acquisition of language from birth is a human right for every person, and that deaf and hard of hearing infants and children should be given the opportunity to acquire and develop proficiency in ASL as early as possible.