ASL Slam is a platform that offers the stage to performers and audience members to come up and rap, rhapsodize and rehash in sign language.

We provide a safe space for Sign Language community to play with our language.


In March of 2005, Bob Arnold (one of the creators behind the Sign Writing movement) founded ASLian Poetry & Storytelling Night at the famed Bowery Poetry Club in Manhattan. After running it for 6 months, he relocated, and Jason Norman took over, hosting the open mic event on a monthly basis and changing the name to ASL Slam. Douglas Ridloff, then an emerging poet, artist, and performer, joined the ASL Slam family in 2006 to help with the event. 


By 2009, Douglas became the sole host, and ASL Slam became a brand, garnering national and international attention, and attracting audiences and performers from all over the world with its rotation of monthly events, ranging from open mics to fully staged performances.


In 2013, ASL Slam kicked off its first tour, visiting Austin, Boston, Michigan, France, and many other locales. 


In 2019, ASL Slam officially became a non-profit organization, with Douglas Ridloff as the founder, joined by a designated board and ongoing support team.

In 2020, ASL Slam paused all in-person monthly events due to Covid-19 and moved onto the virtual social media platform.


In 2021, ASL Slam resumed the New York City in-person monthly events in the Fall with Zavier Sabio as the host.  


ASL Slam brings together established Deaf poets and performers to share their material with a wider community, and also offers the stage to audience members. Slam is a safe space for the Deaf community to play, experiment and share in their native American Sign Language. 

Building off the momentum and community engagement of ASL Slam’s monthly shows, we seek to expand the reach and potential of ASL Slam as a catalyst for new artistic production in American Sign Language. 

Recognizing the need for more opportunities for Deaf creatives, as well as the lack of educational resources for Deaf children, ASL Slam seeks to expand its scope through four main project initiatives: Educational Programs, Artist Residences, Digital Archives, and an expansion of ASL Slam’s monthly events.

Under the leadership of Douglas Ridloff, ASL Slam has collaborated on projects, workshops and events with the Whitney Museum, the Jewish Museum, Bowery Poetry Club, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, The Center for the Humanities at CUNY Graduate Center and many more. 

ASL Slam continues to maintain its monthly event in New York City, now hosted at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and the Bowery Poetry Club. ASL Slam will resume in Orlando.


Douglas Ridloff, President

Julia Silvestri, Vice President

Darby Yusupov, Treasurer

Karan Danani, Board Member

Kayleigh Marshall, Board Member

Jason Quiñones, Board Member

Zavier Sabio, New York City ASL Slam Host

Kumar Singh, Orlando ASL Slam Host