Martha's Vineyard Sign Language

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Martha's Vineyard Sign Language was a form of sign language that developed in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, because of the extremely high percentage of deaf people living there (1 out of 155, compared to 1 out of 6,000 for the general United States population, with 1 out of 4 people deaf in the Chilmark, Massachusetts neighborhood of Squibnocket).

The sign language originated in the County Kent weald, England, where many of the original inhabitants came from: researchers later discovered that some of the early settlers carried a gene which causes deafness. Kent Sign Language (17th century) evolved into a distinct Chilmark Sign Language (17th & 18 century) and was later combined with French Sign Language (19th century) to form Martha's Vineyard Sign Language (19th & 20th century). These combinations, along with contributions from the New York deaf community eventually evolved a distinctly American Sign Language (ASL). From the late 1700s to the early twentieth century, virtually everyone on Martha's Vineyard possessed some degree of fluency in the local sign language.

Martha's Vineyard Sign Language was carried to American Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb, now the American School for the Deaf, where it and French Sign Language were the major contributors to the development of American Sign Language.

The language was eventually replaced by ASL, and the recurrent deafness finally eliminated as people migrated from the island and new populations moved in.de:Martha's Vineyards Gebärdensprache

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