Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis



Reader 1

Seo Young Park

Reader 2

Claudia Strauss

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Rights Information

© 2014 Anya Leyhe


Historically, American Sign Language (an aspect of Deaf culture) has been rendered invisible in mainstream hearing society. Today, ASL’s popularity is evidenced in an ethnolinguistic renaissance; more second language learners pursue an interest in ASL than ever before. Nonetheless, Deaf and hearing people alike express concern about ASL’s place in hearing culture. This qualitative study engages ethnographic methods of participant observation and semi-structured interviewing as well as popular media analysis to understand language ideologies (ideas and objectives concerning roles of language in society) hearing and Deaf Signers hold about motivations and practices of other hearing Signers. Although most hearing ASLers identify as apolitical students genuinely seeking to build bridges between disparate communities, I argue that ASLers are most concerned with hearing Signers’ colonization of the language through commoditization and cultural appropriation.