Clayton L. Valli

ASL scholar and poet

A native of Newburyport, Massachusetts, Valli graduated from Austine School in 1971, earned an A.A.S. in Photography from NTID, a B.A. from University of Nevada at Reno, an M.A. in Linguistics from Gallaudet College, and a Ph.D. from Union Institute. The first person to earn a doctorate in Linguistics and ASL Poetics, he was a renowned ASL scholar, professor, consultant, presenter, and trainer, traveling and lecturing extensively (e.g., conducting workshops in Canada). He did extensive research into the sociolinguistics of ASL, co-authored seven books (including Linguistics of American Sign Language and The Gallaudet Dictionary of American Sign Language), and published numerous articles. But he is best remembered for his influential work as an ASL poet and his contributions to ASL literature. Valli’s death from complications of AIDS silenced an eminent ASL “voice.” Two scholarship funds at Gallaudet University honor his memory.

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