American Sign Language, ASL, Deaf, Deaf Community, Deaf Culture, Bilingual, Remote, Online learning, Second Language Acquisition, COVID-19


Second language acquisition of American Sign Language (ASL) requires opportunities for engagement with native language models (Krashen, 1988). The shift to online instruction due to the impact of COVID-19 presented unique challenges for ASL programs across the United States. With little time to redesign courses, instructors and students had to navigate the experience of online learning together. The students who participated in this 2020 study at Western Oregon University (WOU) shared their raw experiences related to this transition, and unfortunately, one year later, many of the same barriers reported by students persist. The purpose of this article is to share their stories, and present evidence that face-to-face instruction of ASL is essential and cannot simply be replaced with online learning without negative consequences. Access to immersion opportunities and consistent engagement with native language models are not easy to replicate in online environments, pointing to the fact that there is a need for face-to-face opportunities to acquire ASL when it is safe to do so.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

Persistent Identifier




To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.