Ministry of Education
Provincial and Demonstration Schools Branch

American Sign Language (ASL) Curriculum

“American Sign Language is far more than a ‘language of instruction’ and does far more than provide a student access to the curriculum”

– Heather Gibson

Brief History

On July 21, 1993, the Ontario Legislative authorized the use of American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des signes québécoises (LSQ) as the languages of instruction for Deaf students

Ontario Provincial Schools ASL curriculum team was implemented in 1999.

ASL language arts classes were first provided for our elementary students in the fall of 2007 and for our high school students in the winter of 2008.

Rationale for ASL Curriculum

Having an ASL curriculum as a study of language will provide our student learning benchmarks for their development and demonstration of expected ASL and ASL literacy skills.

The SJW Elementary Program, Kindergarten – Grade 8

ASL Language Arts Program

Our balanced ASL literacy program provides our students the rich opportunity to expand knowledge of ASL, ASL literature, and ASL culture, to develop skills in ASL and ASL literacy, and to demonstrate appreciation for our language ASL and ASL Literature.

Our students are expected to meet the American Sign Language Curriculum expectations (Nursery to Grade 12) based on their grades as well as their IEP’s (Individual Education Plan). The three strands are:

  • ASL Grammatical Linguistic Comprehension and ASL Texts and literature Analysis
  • ASL Grammatical Linguistic Construction and ASL Texts and Literature Construction
  • ASL Conversation and ASL Media Literacy and Technologies

These three strands provide our students the opportunity to develop skills in developing ASL conversation, constructing ASL literary works, comprehending and analyzing ASL literature works, and creating ASL media literacy arts through iMacs.

The SJW Secondary School Program, Grade 9 – 12

ASL Curriculum

The course emphasizes analytic comprehension, ASL linguistic structures and critical thinking skills which students need for success in secondary school academic programs and their daily lives.

Our students will study and interpret ASL video production and ASL literature and texts from contemporary and historical periods. They will explore and analyze ASL multi-episode stories and plays based on indigenous Deaf ASL Canadians and Deaf ASL American cultures and also based on a smaller culture struggling within the mainstream culture. They will investigate and create ASL media literary works.

An important focus will be the correct and effective use of ASL linguistic structures and ASL linguistic construction comprehension and analysis.

“The most important aspect of the American Sign Language Curriculum will be the measurable progress our Bilingual ASL-using students show in their language and literacy development in two languages, American Sign Language and English.”

– Heather Gibson, Principal of Provincial Schools ASL Curriculum Project Fall 2004

ASL Assessment and Evaluation

We administer a couple of formal ASL assessments American Sign Language Proficiency Assessment (ASL-PA) developed by Dr. Samuel Supalla and his colleagues and American Sign Language Test Battery (ASL-TB) developed by Dr. Ted Supalla.

ASL-PA is a global assessment of a child’s (between ages 6 and 12) expressive ASL proficiency level at conversation level. There are 23 target features used in the ASL-PA instrument. See the published article about this assessment:

ASL-TB is an assessment tool that identifies an analysis of a child’s (between ages 3 and 18) knowledge and use of specific morphological and syntactic structures in ASL. This test consists of 12 comprehension and production measures. These measures are: lexical phonology production, narrative production, verb agreement production, noun-verb production, noun-verb comprehension, verb of motion production, sign order comprehension, verb reversal production, verb agreement comprehension: single verbs, and verb agreement comprehension: two verb sequences.

ASL-PA and ASL-TB IEP’s are developed for those students who are in need to accomplish all target features of the ASL-PA and ASL-TB. ASL tutorials are provided for them.

In ASL classrooms, we measure our students’ expected development in their ASL and ASL literacy skills based on a variety of assessments that align with the Achievement Chart in American Sign Language Curriculum.