Dennis Cokely Collection

Dennis Cokely Collection

The Dennis Cokely American Freedom Speeches Parallel Corpus

This collection of research materials is named in honor of Dr. Dennis Cokely, a pioneer researcher, educator, and leader in sign language interpretation. For more on Dennis’ life, see his bio here.

Parallel corpora are research databases of translations in which the relationship between phrases in the original text (English) with the corresponding phrases in the translation (American Sign Language) are maintained. Because corpora are in an electronic text format, they can be searched and processed with software tools. Parallel corpora provide data that can be used to answer research and educational questions within the field of translation or interpretation studies. Different methods and tools can be used to analyze, describe, and learn from the translation data (see examples under Scholarship).

The Cokely Parallel Corpus is based on six published translations from the American Freedom Speeches DVD produced by Signmedia, Inc. This DVD and accompanying Instructor’s Guide is a set of 13 important historical political speeches and documents translated into American Sign Language (ASL). ASL has its own unique grammar, lexicon, semantics, and discourse devices that are not based on the English language. Because ASL does not have a widely-used writing system, the original translations were prepared by a team of experts (including Dennis) and memorized and performed on video by Deaf translators. The six translations in the corpus are from the following English speeches and documents:

  1. The Preamble to the Constitution by the Constitutional Convention Committee on Style
  2. I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr.
  3. The Struggle for Justice by Cesar Chavez
  4. On Human Rights by Jimmy Carter
  5. Vice Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech by Geraldine Ferraro
  6. The Pledge of Allegiance (two versions) by Francis Bellamy
    *Only excerpts of the speeches in 2 – 5 are translated.

Along with the six videos from the American Freedom Speeches DVD, the Cokely Parallel Corpus was annotated and aligned by a team of researchers using ELAN and Microsoft Excel software tools.  

Through the generosity of Signmedia, Inc. and the researchers who developed the aligned transcription data, we are excited to make 6 of the 13 original translation videos as well as the corpus electronic files and related materials openly available under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.


Karen Petronio, Daniel Roush, Benjamin Roush, and Amy Schilling, in the Department of American Sign Language and Interpreter Education at Eastern Kentucky University.  

Laura Edwards, Cindy Judd, and Linda Sizemore at EKU Libraries.

MJ Bienvenu, Micky Cokely, Dennis Cokely, Jan-Marie Fernandez, Patrick Graybill, David Hamilton, Mark Morales, and Maureen Yates—authors, translators, and on-camera talent of the American Freedom Speeches DVD and Instructor’s Guide.

Julie Hochgesang at the Department of Linguistics, Gallaudet University.

Verden Ness and Barbara Olmert at Signmedia, Inc.

Brandon Author at Street for photo and bio of Dennis Cokely.

Contact Information

Daniel Roush or 
Amy Schilling


Browse the Dennis Cokely Collection:

Dennis Cokely Parallel Corpus: Data and Materials

Dennis Cokely Parallel Corpus: Related Materials

Dennis Cokely Parallel Corpus: Scholarship