ASL was recognized as a language back in the 60’s and is considered a very young language:

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (
Main Entry: American Sign Language
Function: noun
Date: 1960
: a sign language for the deaf in which meaning is conveyed by a system of articulated hand gestures and their placement relative to the upper body

Even though it has been well over fifty years since ASL has been recognized as a language, it has taken a long time for the community to get the rest of the world to accept that it is a language. People across the world would say that American Deaf people should consider themselves lucky and this is true because many sign languages out there are not formally recognized.

Just today the Danish Parliament unanimously recognized Danish Sign Language (Dansk Tegnsprog) and has passed Law 61 amending a law on Danish Languages.  (warning: link is not in English!) With this great honor, it has been shared by Pigs can Fly that there will be an Council established resorting under the Danish Language Council.

“The Danish Sign Language Council will consist of 5 members, appointed by the Minister of Culture for 4 years (with possibility of reappointment): 2 representatives from the Danish Language Council, one from the Danish Deaf Association (DDL), one representative from the Education and Research Ministry and one from the Ministry of Children, Equality, Integration and Social Condition”  (Pigs Can Fly)

While ASL is recognized as a language, Americans do not have the “respect and protection” that it needs according to a petition that was sent out back in 2012. Adrean Clark had commented about ASL being recognized as a foreign language (ironic considering it’s an American based language)

 “Adrean Clark, a Minnesota-based deaf cartoonist who created the petition, says foreign language recognition is a step forward but that it also perpetuates sign language’s marginalization.” (US News)

For further clarification on Adrean’s petition, the National Association for the Deaf had stated support for the petition. Even though ASL is considered a language, it is not given the respect it deserves by being a choice on the Census form. Maybe in 2020, it will be put down as a choice for Ameicans on the Census form but it wasn’t an option in 2010.