American Sign Language (ASL) Research Resources

Linguistic Society of America Summer Institute

Lexington, KY


Wednesday, July 12

9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Location JSB 203


This workshop will provide information on resources useful for research on ASL, including (a) a new corpus of longitudinal data on the acquisition of ASL; (b) ASL-LEX and ASL SignBank lexical databases; and (c) upgrades to ELAN that bridge annotations with SignBank entries. The Sign Language Acquisition: Annotation, Archiving & Sharing (SLAAASh) project involves the construction of machine-readable annotated videos of Deaf children acquiring ASL interacting with their Deaf parents and/or researchers using ASL. The videos were collected in the 1990’s and are being re-annotated for consistency and accuracy. At a minimum, one complete corpus will be available to researchers by the time of the workshop. The annotations used in the SLAAASh project crucially involve the use of ID glosses, labels used to consistently identify a sign lemma regardless of changes in its use in various contexts. The ID glosses, along with videos, lexical, and phonological information about each sign, are housed in a new ASL SignBank, to be open to researchers, built on the basis of SignBanks previously constructed for other sign languages. The ASL SignBank is being constructed to be mutually compatible with the existing publicly available ASL-LEX database, containing overlapping phonological information as well as frequency and iconicity ratings, with a unique set of visualization options. Technological improvements to ELAN provide a bridge between an annotation file and SignBank, permitting a close integration of these components for improved consistency in data coding and further research. For example, all instances of a lemma can be called up, modified, or coded through the ELAN/ SignBank bridge. In the workshop, participants will be introduced to these research tools, and instructed in how to access and manipulate information across all of them. There will be presentations by the developers of these tools as well as time for hands-on implementation.


Workshop Languages will be ASL and English. Interpreting will be provided.


To Register: Click here

Registration is free but required. Limit 25 participants.



Time Topic Presenter
9:00 SL Resources: Why   Onno Crasborn
10:00 Sign Bank Julie Hochgesang
 11:00  ASL-LEX Zed Sehyr
 12  Lunch on your own
 1:00  ELAN 5.0 Onno Crasborn
2:00 SLAAASh Diane Lillo-Martin
3:00 SL Resources: Ethics  Julie Hochgesang


Organizers / Presenters


Onno Crasborn, Radboud University



Julie Hochgesang, Gallaudet University



Zed Sevcikova Sehyr, San Diego State University



Diane Lillo-Martin, University of Connecticut



Recommended Preparation and Further Reading for All Participants


On Ethics

  • Harris, R., Holmes, H.M. & Mertens, D.M. (2009). Research Ethics in Sign Language Communities. Sign Language Studies 9.2, 104-131. Harris_Holmes_Mertens_2009
  • Hochgesang, J. (2015). Ethics of Researching Signed Languages: The Case of Kenyan Sign Language. In A.C. Cooper & K.K. Rashid (Eds.), Signed Languages in Sub-Saharan Africa: Politics, citizenship and shared experiences of difference, 11-30. Gallaudet University Press. Hochgesang_2015
  • Crasborn, O. (2010). What does ‘informed consent’ mean in the Internet age? Publishing sign language corpora as open content. Sign Language Studies, 10(1), 276-290. Crasborn_2010

On Writing sign languages, ID glossing,  etc.

  • Johnston, T. (2010). From archive to corpus: Transcription and annotation in the creation of signed language corpora. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 15.1, 106-131. Johnston_2010
  • Grushkin, D.A. (2017). Writing Signed Languages: What For? What Form? American Annals of the Deaf 161(5), 509-527. Grushkin_2017
  • Supalla, S.J., Cripps, J.H. & Byrne, A.P. (2017). Why American Sign Language Gloss Must Matter. American Annals of the Deaf 161(5), 540-551. Supalla_et_al_response_2017

On SignBanks

  • Fenlon, J., Cormier, K. & Schembri, A. (2015). Building BSL SignBank: The Lemma Dilemma Revisited. International Journal of Lexicography 28.2, 169-206. Fenlon_et_al_2015
  • Gutierrez-Sigut, E. Costello, B., Baus, C., & Carreiras, M. (2016) LSE-Sign: A lexical database for Spanish Sign Language. Behavior Research Methods 48, 123-137. Gutierrez-Sigut_et_al_2016


  • Caselli, N.K., Sehyr, Z.S., Cohen-Goldberg, A.M. & Emmorey, K. (2017). ASL-LEX: A lexical database of American Sign Language. Behavior Research Methods 49.2, 784-801. Caselli_et_al_2017


  • Wittenburg, P., Brugman, H., Russel, A., Klassmann, A., & Sloetjes, H. (2006). ELAN: a professional framework for multimodality research. Paper presented at the LREC 2006 Conference. Wittenburg_et_al_2006
  • Crasborn, O., & Sloetjes, H. (2008). Enhanced ELAN functionality for sign language coropora. Paper presented at the Construction and Exploitation of Sign Language Corpora. 3rd Workshop on the Representation and Processing of Sign Languages, Marrakech, Morocco. Crasborn_Sloetjes_2008
  • Crasborn, O., & Slöetjes, H. (2014). Improving the exploitation of linguistic annotations in ELAN. In N. Calzolari, K. Choukri, & e. al. (Eds.), Language Resources and Evaluation 2014. Reykjavik, Iceland: ELRA. Crasborn_Sloetjes_2014
  • Crasborn, O., Bank, R., Zwitserlood, I., Kooij, E. v. d., Schüller, A., Ormel, E., . . . Ros, J. (2016). Linking Lexical and Corpus Data for Sign Languages: NGT Signbank and the Corpus NGT. Paper presented at the 7th Workshop on the Representation and Processing of Sign Languages: Corpus Mining, Portorož, Slovenia. Crasborn_et_al_2016

On SLAAASh data

  • Lillo-Martin, D. & Chen Pichler, D. (2008). Development of Sign Language Acquisition Corpora. 6th edition of the Language Resources and Evaluation Conference; 3rd workshop on the Representation and Processing of Sign Languages: Construction and Exploitation of Sign Language Corpora; Marrakech, Morocco; June 2008. Lillo-Martin_Chen_Pichler_2008