Dorothy Miles: a modern Deaf poet

Dorothy Miles, also known as Dot (1931-1993), was one of the pioneers in ASL/BSL poetry as well as she was a poet in English. She was the contemporary of ASL poets Clayton Valli and Ella Lentz.

Born hearing in Gwernaffield, North Wales in 1931, her mother tongue was English. As she became deaf at age eight, she later attended schools for the deaf in England, where British Sign Language (BSL) was used. She attended Gallaudet University in 1957, where she started learning ASL. She received a BA with distinction from Gallaudet University in 1961 and eventually settled down in the U.S.

In the U.S., she was inspired by the use of sign language in the National Theatre of the Deaf (NTD); she began pursuing in sign language translation and poetry, in which she made contributions to ASL poetry and literature. After 20 years in the U.S., she returned to England in 1977, where she continued her influences and works in BSL and English poetry. For the rest of her life, she continued to compose both English poetry and BSL poetry, in which she was comfortable with both of these languages.

Related posts

View some of Miles' recorded poems in BSL at


Sutton-Spece, Rachel. "Dorothy Miles". European Cultural Heritage Online (ECHO), December 2003.

Additional resources

Miles, Dorothy. Gestures: Poetry in Sign Language. Northridge, Calif.: Joyce Motion Picture Co. 1976.