|  Volume 1, Issue 3, September 2003  |  William G. Vicars Ed.D., Editor

ASL Research Without a Library

Research Issues

A student writes:

I'm taking an internet-based ASL course and I am  miles away from any viable library with deaf or ASL-related linguistic books. The instructor has stated that we could not use articles unless we were able site them properly. Could you give me some ideas on how you would overcome the situation that we are in when it comes to getting proper ASL Linguistic information for the research paper?

Hello Buzz!

In response to your first question: You can use "internet" articles for your research as long as you cite them.  To help you find some decent "citable" articles, here are some sites that can help:

"Find Articles" Searching Articles from Magazine and Journal Publications : - Magazine Article Search Engine :
Search Electronic Journals://

The above sites should turn up plenty of citable resources. For example, I used the site and typed in "American Sign Language grammar." The server located 577,034 related articles.

Once you've found your articles then you can cite them properly by following the APA guidlines for electronic citations.
You can find the guidelines online at:

Dr. V


Expanding Communication Options

Education Issues

A person writes:

Hello Bill: I'm an Educational Assistant in the public school system. I work with a 6yr boy who is mute. I knew some basic signs from being around my two deaf cousins and plus I have always been interested in learning sign language. When I started to use one sign at a time ex: sit, book just the classroom signs he started to say these words to me. I do not have the confident to speak a long full sentence to this child yet. I also do not think that he would understand a full sentence. I have look over your lesson plan and this has really help me, it's a great site. I am purchasing you cd, do you have any suggestion that would be useful to me, if so please let me know. should I start to use sentence with this child? I am hoping by me learning more sign language that other EA'S  and recourse teachers will take the interest in learning signs too. I am going to be working with thus student in SEPT again so i am hoping to make more improvements with him so the staff will realize  how much signing can help high needs children. I'm hoping to start a book with this child and for an Autism child with the pictures of sign and words so they will be able to show people what they would like. Thanks for your site.


Sorry for the delay in returning your email.  I was moving from Texas to California.  As it is I'm typing this from a hotel room.
You asked regarding the instruction of a 6yr old child whether you should use full sentences, etc.

My response is that you should indeed use full sentences. But, understand, an ASL sentence is full without needing all of the English fillers.  ASL doesn't use signs like "is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been" etc.  So just sign the main words that get your point across, use plenty of facial expressions, "body language," and a bit of mime here and there.  The communication will happen as long as you make the effort.  Later perhaps you can take an ASL course and you will see what I mean.

Challenge  him at every opportunity.  Expect a lot from him and you will get more than if you settle for low expectations.

Perhaps you local library has additional sign language books and videos that could be borrowed for free.

To whatever extent it is appropriate you should get the parents involved in the signing process. Please do send a note home with your student inviting them to contact you and discuss their son's communication.  You might even suggest they visit to help out with learning ASL.

Best wishes in your signing endeavors.



A Child Who Doesn't Speak 

Education Issues

A person writes from Utah:

My son _____ just turned 3 in July.

He does not speak, I had him tested with the school district. Hearing was not my concern, it was communication, however my husband and I were told that he is hearing impaired, and that is the reason for his lack of speech.

In my opinion he hears just fine, I very seldom have to repeat anything to him. He did fail his hearing test at birth, but we were told it was probably due to fluid from being born. I do have an appointment with a private audiologist.

What is your opinion on what route I should take, and I would also like to know your opinion on how well/bad the programs through the school district are. Thanks for your time. I would appreciate any advice you would like to give.

Sincerely,   (name on file).

Hi ______,

The first thing I'd do is contact the Utah Parent Center and tell them what you told me in your email.

Utah Parent Center
2290 East 4500 South, Suite#110
Salt Lake City, UT 84117-4428
Phone: 801-272-1051
Fax: 801-272-8907
Toll Free: 1-800-468-1160 voice or TDD
Executive Director
Helen Post -

Seek their advice.  They have been in this business for many years and are very balanced and knowledgeable.

Next I'd contact the Ski-Hi institute, and tell them your story and ask for advice:

The SKI-HI Institute
6500 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT 84322-6500
Tel: (435) 797-5600, Fax: (435) 797-5580

I'd also contact the Parent Infant Program coordinator at the  Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind 742 Harrison Blvd.
Ogden, UT 84404 - 5298 Telephone: (801) 629 - 4743 or (800) 990 - 9328.

I haven't called those numbers lately so I hope they are current.  If not, you can get them from 411 I reckon. 

You might want to contact "Head Start" program for your school district.

Lastly, I'd contact your local branch of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services and determine the extent to which he qualifies for their services.

 VocRehab paid for my first year of college and has been very helpful over the years.

I recommend you visit the library and check out books on hearing loss.  Strive to become an expert on it because you will have many "experts" try to tell you what to do.  Someone once told my mother to put "tubes" in my ears.  That was stupid advice.  I have a sensorineural hearing loss, not a conductive loss caused by fluid buildup.  Mom had the common sense/intuition to not follow the "advice"--for which I'm grateful.

Seems to me you have the same common sense about your son.  So follow your instincts and don't necessarily trust the doctors to know your son.  You live with him so you know him better than they do.

But I'd keep going to doctors and specialists until I got some decent answers (while keeping in mind that some of them try to tell you "whatever" even though they may not have a clue.  Eventually you will find one or two audiologists and specialists who know what they are talking about in regard to your son.  Have the aforementioned organizations recommend professionals who are knowledgeable in areas like aphasia.

Now, if it were me, I'd certainly teach the kid how to use sign language and then I'd use it with him and voice to him at the same time.  But that may not work for you due to time constraints and other factors.

Take care,

Bill  Vicars


[Note to readers:  When you sign and voice at the same time you are not using "ASL."  Instead you are using what is called "contact language."  There are those who will tell you this is a bad thing. My response is that you need to look at what is going to work for that family and that individual child before you decide what is good and bad.  Parents don't all of the sudden "know" ASL just because they give birth to a deaf child.  It would be silly to put off signing to the child until the parents are skilled in ASL.  My suggestion is to start communicating NOW with everything you can, in as many ways as you can so as to build up the child's cognitive ability.  If you already know ASL, then by all means sign ASL to your child from the crib.  But if you don't know ASL then use what you do know and switch to ASL as your skill progresses.]


American Sign Language University William Vicars