What is ASL?

ASL is an acronym for American Sign Language. In ASL, the hands communicate by forming signs. These signs have meaning just like spoken words in English have meaning. When you learn to sign in ASL, you are learning a new way to say things. Learning ASL also means learning how to express yourself using your eyes, face, head movements, and body movements. Along with the hands, these features make ASL an exciting language to learn and use.

Who uses ASL?

It is the language used by Deaf people living in the United States and in Canada. It is used in schools, the community, and the workplace. Many Hearing people use it too.

10 reasons why you should learn ASL

  1. It is one of the fastest growing languages of study in the United States.
  2. Over 1,000,000 Deaf and Hearing people use it.
  3. It is the third most common language used in the United States behind English and Spanish.
  4. It helps many Hearing parents learn to communicate with their Deaf children.
  5. It can help people get jobs in the service industry.
  6. Learning ASL introduces you to the Deaf community and its rich cultural experiences.
  7. Learning ASL helps people gain an appreciation for language.
  8. Many people say that ASL is a lot more fun to learn than other foreign languages.
  9. You can teach it to your baby. Babies can learn to sign before they can learn to speak.
  10. It can help people with limited verbal skills develop their communication skills.

10 more reasons to learn ASL

  1. To have private discussions in public places.
  2. To talk to your child without others hearing.
  3. To discuss your evening plans at the dinner table without your parents overhearing.
  4. To carry on a conversation with a friend across a noisy room.
  5. To coach a talented child while he or she is out on the field playing soccer, without letting the coach know of your help. (Also useful in any other sport where you know more than the coach.)
  6. To have a wild yet silent discussion with a friend during a movie, opera, or at the symphony.
  7. To make plans for after-school fun without interrupting your teacher's monologue on the movement of ocean currents.
  8. Signing is more subtle than kicking someone under the table.
  9. Using ASL exercises a different side of the brain.
  10. To send your love to someone across the room. 

Who are we?

The founders of Signing Online combine over 25 years of expertise in teaching and writing about American Sign Language, including authoring E-Z American Sign Language by David A Stewart published by Barrons Educational Series, with over 15 years of expertise in creating interactive multimedia educational products, including the development of the Personal Communicator CD-ROM, which won the Discover Magazine Software of the Year award in 1995.

Our mission

Signing Online's mission is to make it easier for you to learn American Sign Language. Using advanced Internet technology and effective teaching theories, SigningOnline.com is designed to teach you American Sign Language from home, school, work, a library, an airport terminal, an Internet café, or anywhere you may be with an Internet connection, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

How SigningOnline.com helps you learn ASL

  • Affordable interactive courses
  • Advanced web video technology
  • Field-tested interactive instructional techniques
  • Uses real-life situations and content
  • Provides many opportunities for practice
  • Always available
  • Flexible scheduling. You set your own schedule and pace.
  • A final word about learning ASL

American Sign Language is different from spoken languages because it is a visual language and it is difficult, if not impossible to learn ASL from a book alone. Static images on a page and text just do not convey the flow and motion of the language. Further, courses in ASL are sometimes difficult to find close to home and are occasionally expensive.

That's why Signing Online feels that the ASL web courses are an enjoyable and effective way to learn American Sign Language.

The Course Creator

Dr. David Stewart Founder, Signing Online

David Stewart was the ASL content expert and the creative genius behind the Signing Online program as well as one of the signers in the courses. He has taught American Sign Language since 1979 and along with a team of researchers from Michigan State University, was responsible for the creation of the Personal Communicator, an award-winning CD developed in the mid-1990s to facilitate communication between deaf students and their hearing classmates in public schools.

Stewart was a professor and director of the Deaf Education program at Michigan State University. In addition to preparing teachers to teach deaf and hard of hearing children he oversaw the American Sign Language program. He was the recipient of several federal grants to conduct research on the education of deaf students. He made numerous presentations at national and international conferences.

Prior to attending graduate school and becoming a professor, Stewart taught deaf and hard of hearing children in a school for the deaf. He wrote extensively about the use of sign language in the classroom and the critical role it has in the identity of the Deaf community. He is the author of seven books and over 60 academic publications related to American Sign Language, sociocultural aspects of the Deaf community, and the education of deaf and hard of hearing children.

As a Deaf individual, Stewart had long ties with the Deaf community and its members. He served on the Board of Trustees for many years at Gallaudet University.

David passed away in June 2004. His passion for Deaf Education and American Sign Language lives on through his work and the many minds that he has touched.

David Stewart's vision for Signing Online:

  • Affordable interactive courses
  • Advanced web video technology
  • Field-tested interactive instructional techniques
  • Uses real-life situations and content
  • Provides many opportunities for practice
  • Always available
  • Flexible scheduling. You set your own schedule and pace.

Over ten thousand students have completed the courses for credit, non-credit and continuing education. Students from universities, colleges, high schools, government and non-government organizations, and businesses use Signing Online to educate themselves in American Sign Language.

On a personal note:

David Stewart, profoundly Deaf creator of Signing Online, and his deaf sister Diane grew up in a Hearing family setting. Their hearing loss was a “dawning realization” rather than an instant recognition that something was amiss. Those of us who later knew David and Diane agree that their grasp of language and speech skills indicate they must have had at least some vestige of hearing in their first years of life. “Children who become deaf at the age of two or later are called postlingually deaf. These children have already started speaking and have acquired language skills that will assist in the further development of language as they adjust to being deaf and to learning a new communication mode” (The Signing Family by David A Stewart and Barbara Luetke-Stahlman) Perhaps parents of deaf children will be heartened to know that David, a brilliant and creative person, could not hear but was still able to do everything else… His deafness was a fact of life and no more of a disability for him than the need to wear glasses to read. As I. King Jordan often said “Deaf people can do anything hearing people can do, except hear.” There is no doubt that David was a highly successful, brilliantly insightful Deaf man who accomplished much and was admired by many. David admitted that when he learned sign language it gave his life a new dimension along with much needed confidence. He wished he had been given the early social and emotional advantages of unfettered communication through Sign Language. From his determination to share this beautiful language the idea of Signing Online was created.

Some Books written by David Stewart

  • Language in Motion, Exploring the Nature of Sign. By Schein and Stewart. ISBN1-56368-039-4
  • The Signing Family, What every Parent Should Know about Sign Communication. By Stewart and Luerke-Stahlman ISBN1-56368-06906
  • Literacy and Your Deaf Child, What Every Parent Should Know. By Stewart and Clarke ISBN1-56368-136-6
  • Barron's American Sign Language: A Comprehensive Guide to ASL 1 and 2 with Online Video Practice. By David Stewart and Jenny Stewart ISBN978-1506263823
  • Deaf Sport: The Impact of Sports within the Deaf Community. By Stewart ISBN978-0930323745
  • Sign Language Interpreting: Exploring Its Art and Science. By Stewart et al. ISBN978-0205407941

Privacy Policy

Your security is important to us.

At SigningOnline we are committed to protect your privacy rights. SigningOnline guarantees you that we will not sell, rent, or share any of your personal information with any third parties without your consent, except for our personal affiliates who provide us with necessary services to process your order (such as PayPal if you choose to pay this way). General viewing of our site does not require for us to collect any personal information. 

Additional questions? 

If you have any additional questions, visit the Frequently Asked Questions page for answers.

Contact Us 


Phone: (517) 980-5662  Please note that voice mail is checked only occasionally.

Text messages and email should always include students USER NAME for verification purposes.

Students USER NAME is required for all information to be verified.

For information about License Agreements please contact: emstewart@signingonline.com


"We are so impressed and glad that we were able to take advantage of this online signing program.  My 9 year old wanted to learn to use sign language to communicate with an acquaintance. This program is so easy to use and has been a great after school activity to keep him busy.  Just after a few lessons, our acquaintance is so impressed with what our son has already learned and picked up in the short time he's had the program.  It makes my son so happy now that he can talk to his friend and is starting to understand why it is so hard on our friend when he goes somewhere and people just don't understand.  The video and hand gestures are easy to follow.  We have recommended the program to other classmates and acquaintances.  We are hoping to continue with the course after this one is done. "

- E Sibert, Co-op Member

"Last year I used another online program (more expensive) that was a total waste of my time and money.  I have learned more in 3 months of using Signing Online than I did using the other for a year."

-Rachel F

"We ordered two subscriptions to Signing Online this fall for my two middle school boys. We absolutely love the program. Each lesson follows the same structure and includes lots of explanations about grammar and word order. My boys enjoy the quizzes and the fact that they can re-take them to improve their score. Right from the start, we ve been signing with each other based on what they've learned in the lessons which is the best indicator that this is a fun, motivating, solid program. I also appreciate the culture section of each lesson. Overall, a great program!!"

-S. Thompson, Co-op Member 

"My boys are really enjoying the course and are signing to me all the time now!"

-Susan T

"We all love Miss Jenny who leads our "hybrid" sign language course (SigningOnline) here at the college. Last year I did Beginning and Basic and this year we are doing Intermediate and Advanced.  It is so much fun that I can't wait to get to class.  I love signing and would love to be an Interpreter." (Yolonda) "I have enjoyed using the program. It has good paced written lessons and easily understood videos that go with each lesson. It has been fun to do."

-MJ, Co-op Member

"She loves ASL and has decided to major in Communications Science and Disorders with a double minor in ASL and Dance, then to get a masters in Speech Pathology. Out of all the programs she has taken, she says this one is the best and most informative, especially the videos which are much eaiser to "see" and follow. Thank you again!

God bless,"


"I have been finding the lessons and your dictionary to be invaluable tools. They have opened up a whole new communication platform for me since my deafness journey began and I can’t explain what learning has meant to me over the last few years. It has changed my life for the positive in so many ways. My deafness is no longer a disability for me but it has introduced me to a whole new world of communication and it’s amazing!!
Thanks so much!"

-Sara Jane Kiley-McDonald

"Dear Elizabeth, Thank you so much! They emailed my SCECHs to me today, so things look like they will go smoothly ahead for my graduation. You have been amazing and so helpful for me, and I feel a lot of gratitude to you for your kindness and your assistance! Thank you so much for everything!"


"This has been a great solution for high school foreign language credit. There are lesson plans included that will add enough work to give you a full credit. My son enjoys it and I'm glad to have found it for any of my other kids who are interested in ASL."

-L Riggs, Co-op Member

"I love the structure and organization of this curriculum. My daughter is taking it as her foreign language credit. It is very easy to use, has good repetition to help her remember, has written assignments that I print out, and online quizzes. I'm very happy with it and glad we found it on homeschoolbuyersco-op.com."

-Jod Nowell, Co-op Member

"My daughter is using the Signing Online curriculum as a high school foreign language credit. This program allows her to be independent as it is well organized, and easy to follow. She is able to see the signs in action, as the program has lots of videos as opposed to just photos of people signing. Every lesson includes many multiple choice worksheets  - I appreciate this because it gives me something to put in her portfolio as proof of learning. There are also tests and quizzes, and answer keys are included. We much prefer this program to the live online sign language course she took last year (different company) as it is more complete with the option to watch the signing videos as often as you need."

-Michelle R., Co-op Member