Translanguaging and the No Voice Policy in L2 Sign Language Contexts

  • Josée-Anna Tanner Carleton University
  • Nina Doré Carleton University


This article draws on translanguaging theory and research to consider a common pedagogical practice in American Sign Language (ASL) as a second language (L2) classroom, the No Voice policy (i.e., spoken language use is forbidden). The No Voice policy serves important cultural and practical purposes, but by nature limits learners’ access to their entire linguistic repertoire, which raises questions about the overall impact of the policy on learners’ language development. Current literature about pedagogical translanguaging has not yet addressed practices that integrate (and, by extension, limit) selective modalities; we evaluate this gap and propose several directions for future research on the topic.Moreover, previous discussions of translanguaging practices involving recognized minority (e.g., Basque, Welsh, Irish) spoken languages are not wholly comparable to sign languages, which are not yet official or fully recognized languages in most countries and are therefore additionally vulnerable.We take into account the impact of ASL L2 learners on the language community, as many learners go on to become interpreters and allies to the deaf community.

Keywords: American Sign Language as a second language, hearing adult learners, selective modality, pedagogical translanguaging, minority language