ASL University | Bookstore | Catalog | Dictionary | Lessons | Resources | Syllabi | Library | Volume 1, Issue 10, May 2004 | William G. Vicars Ed.D., Editor

●  The sign for "Grandson"
●  The Bible in ASL
●  Reducing Frustration
●  Advice for the newbie
●  Situational Signing
●  Volunteer Work
●  Translating vs. Interpreting
●  Metathesis:
●  Ordinal numbers
●  The sign for SCAR
●  Remember that discussion regarding the sign for Czechoslovakia?
●  Generic Name Signs
●  Signing Songs
●  More Practice
●  Finding a "level 4" curriculum
●  Level 4 testing
●  Baby signing
●  Deaf School in Ghana
●  Foreign language immersion center designed exclusively for children
●  The sign for "accommodation"
●  Dear - cherished - beloved - darling
●  To voice or not to voice

The sign for "Grandson"


In a message dated 4/14/2004 8:07:40 AM Pacific Daylight Time, a student writes:

Hi Bill,
My instructor told me to use the sign for 'grandfather' followed by the sign for 'baby', for 'grandson', but somehow this does not seem to make sense. Is there a sign for this or do you need to fingerspell it?

Dear Student,
The typical method is to spell G-R-A-N-D and sign "SON."
Occasionally I see people use an initialized form of "big" using the letter "G" (meaning great or "grand") and "son" to mean "grandson." But I recommend you spell "grand" then sign "son."

The Bible in ASL


In a message dated 4/9/2004 9:24:33 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

See They have most of the bible in ASL on VHS and are in the process of moving it to DVD. They are mostly complete in generating the Bible in ASL on VHS. They have some of it available on DVD. The goal is to have the entire Bible on DVD and VHS in ASL. They indicate on the web site that some of the older translations are not really accurate ASL, and they are updating those as well.

They entire Bible would be expensive to purchase, but these resources can be borrowed for a nominal fee.


Reducing Frustration


In a message dated 4/8/2004 7:42:37 PM Pacific Daylight Time, Nitab77 writes:

Thanks so much for the information on Signing Naturally [in a previous issue]. I'm one of those 3rd semester frustrated students. I have watched the tape several times, but less than a dozen. Afterwards, I just figure I'm not going to get this and hope to pass the class. Now, I realize I need to watch it several more times to try and understand the content. I have been trying to learn the vocabulary (the fingerspelling is very fast). Still, at this point, I may have to take ASL 3 again in order to bring my grade up. But now I have a better idea of what to do.



Ideally, what an instructor should do is take the time to show you the video in class at least once so you can ask questions. Then send you to a student lab to review with a group of other students under the guidance of a qualified lab aide, and then finally you would review it on your own at home.

- Dr. Vicars


Advice for the newbie


In a message dated 4/8/2004 6:56:43 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:
Dear Bill,

Hi, my name is K.C., I'm a 26 year old girl in northeast Pennsylvania with a question for you. Just so you have some background on what the situation is, I'll try to fill you in briefly. A few months ago a woman came to my team at the bank I work with, transferring from answering the phones to join us due to a medical condition. Her name is Ruth. Ruth's hearing is deteriorating quickly for what reason, I'm not all too sure, but I don't want to pry if it makes her uncomfortable. (My hearing is awful, so ASL comes in very handy sometimes :o) ) Her friend, and trainer at our site, Patty, and she have begun taking classes at the Scranton school for the deaf. I, having learned the alphabet as a young girl, LOVED ASL, but never put it to use. Now, I've found your website along with one called commtech, ASL browser that I'm teaching myself (and teaching her what I've learned). All so that if she does go completely deaf, at least I can communicate with her - for myself or that of management staff. Lol not that they're going to pay me more for additional necessary training that is now applicable to work, but that's a whole other story. My question....Is trying to teach sentence at a time, colors, days of the week, etc... a good way to learn ASL? I don't do well in a classroom atmosphere, but I have found such a passion for learning it even Ruth is exited and comfortable learning with me. I just don't want to REALLY go about things wrong. I see that ASL does NOT speak the same as we would, so I've noticed. Do you have some wise words of wisdom? I could use some advice. Sincerely, K. C.

[I can see the ASL purists wincing as I typed the bits of advice to KC below...but hold on before you "judge."  Read K.C.'s letter carefully this time and note that Ruth is "adult late deafened."  What do K.C. and Ruth need "right now" at this very moment in their lives? Which do they need more--a complicated grammar lesson or do they need to get busy communicating? Also, did you note that K.C. doesn't do well in a classroom atmosphere?]
Words of wisdom for K.C.

1. Dive in and don't worry overmuch about grammar.  Your grammar will develop as you study and practice.  It is better to communicate and build relationships than to sit on your hands for fear of signing wrong.

2. Don't worry about "topicalizing" any of your sentences at this point in your development. I know what you are thinking.  You are wondering what the fetch "topicalizing" means. Don't you worry about that. (It just means to put the object at the front of the sentence while raising the eyebrows).  Instead focus on raising your eyebrows a bit when asking questions that can be answered "yes" or "no."  Furrow your eyebrows a bit when asking "wh-" questions such as "who, what, when, where, why, or how."

3. Go ahead and sign using "Subject, Verb, Object" word order but leave out "state of being verbs" like "is, are, am, was, be, being, been."  Nod or shake your head when appropriate. For example if you want to say, "I am happy" just point to yourself and sign "HAPPY" while nodding your head.


Situational Signing


In a message dated 4/9/2004 6:15:24 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

...I'm an interpreter for a deaf girl at my church. She is fairly well educated and reads VERY well. She speaks very well and reads lips well above average because her adoptive family won't learn sign language, so she is rather proficient in English syntax. In fact, her ASL syntax is not very good, but she can understand ASL syntax when she sees it.

When I interpret the sermon, I use sort of a Pigeon ASL or Signed English, partly because I'm still learning ASL syntax. When I speak to her personally, I try to keep with the ASL grammar that I know, which is actually more than what I do when I interpret.

I know it seems like I'm babbling, but what I'm getting at is, because I don't always know what's coming from the pastor as he speaks, I can't always keep with ASL. I convert what I can, and if I can anticipate what he's about to say, then I convert it to ASL, but what I can't, I keep in English syntax.

I know for this particular situation, this is okay to do because this girl understands me, but I'm hoping that this deaf ministry will grow. When more deaf people start coming in, will it be all right to continue what I'm doing, or should I really strive to do EVERYTHING in ASL?

I know that was a long way for a short question, but I've wondered about this for some time.

Thank you,



ASL is a continuum.  The word "continuum" means a "continuous extent, succession, or whole, no part of which can be distinguished from neighboring parts except by arbitrary division ("
The concept of a continuum as applied to ASL means that in the Deaf community there is no one universally "right" or "exclusively perfect" way to sign a concept or phrase.

ASL teachers establish "arbitrary" divisions in signing at which we deduct points for "correct" and "incorrect" signing including grammar usage.  We do this generally based on the curriculum we are teaching from, or based on our own ideas about what constitutes "good" ASL.

However, if you think you've got the lock on the right way to sign something, ask any veteran ASL teacher if they've ever heard this response from a "corrected" student: "But, my Deaf friend signs it that way!"  If I had a buck for every student who ever told me that his "deaf friend/aunt/cousin/sister signs" a certain vocabulary item differently from the way the "book" (Vista / Learning ASL / Bravo / whatever) signs it -- well, I'd have a couple hundred bucks--but the point is simply that you are not going to "please everyone" so instead focus on signing like the deaf people around you.  My advice to students is if you are in my class, sign the way I do. If you take a class from someone else, sign the way he does. Your friend may sign it differently, but then again, your friend isn't the one assigning you a grade at the end of the semester is he? After you meet and interact with enough deaf people this will become a non-issue.  You will eventually develop your own general style and then "code switch" or adjust your register to match your audience. 

Dr. Vicars


Volunteer Work

In a message dated 4/12/2004 5:42:16 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:
Dear Dr.Vicars,

Hi, my name is Stacey Jordan and I found your ASL University [] one day while doing a search for on line learning of ASL. I have really enjoyed it so far.
I have been learning ASL off and on since I was a teenager, and my goal is to eventually work with deaf children, however it is hard to learn sign language because any classes I find teach what I already know and it's hard to get any practice in if I'm not using what I do know. I am currently living in Jacksonville, North Carolina, I once was a volunteer worker at a day care for deaf children, but that was about 8 years ago and I'm not sure how my mom even found out about it. I would like to do that again or volunteer in any other way so I could be around deaf people and use what I know as well as learn more.
How do I find out if there is any type of volunteer work like that in Jacksonville or Wilmington? I am not sure who to contact at all, so any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you, I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Stacey Jordan


Contact the North Carolina Association for the Deaf and ask them about volunteer opportunities in your area:

Also contact the North Carolina Deaf School and ask them about opportunities to work with Deaf in school settings:
Admissions & Outreach Services (828) 432-5214 (v/tty)

Good luck,
Dr. Vicars
[Note to readers:  You don't have to contact me to find out about volunteer opportunities in your area. All I did was do a few internet searches.]

Translating vs. Interpreting


In a message dated 4/16/2004 2:49:53 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Thank you again for your site.  Would you tell me the difference in a translator and an interpreter? Crazy question I guess but they sound sort of alike to me....???
    Look for my order and money order I am sending it tomorrow....

Have a good weekend,
Kaye A.

Hello Kaye,
The first thing to know is that the "hearing world" and the "Deaf World" each apply somewhat different meanings to the two terms, "interpreter" and "translator"
In the general "hearing" world, an interpreter is someone who changes a spoken language into a different spoken language.
In the hearing world the word "translator" is also commonly understood to mean a person who changes or interprets one language into another. So, to most hearing people, these two terms are synonymous (mean the same). Some experts in the field of interpretation make the distinction that a translator is someone who renders (changes) written works (books, papers, manuscripts, scrolls, etc.) into another language.

An "interpreter" in the Deaf World is someone who interprets from a spoken language (for example, English) to a signed language (for example, American Sign Language) and from a signed language to a spoken language.
A "translator" is someone who translates between spoken English and "Signed English."

The point here is that "interpreting" takes place between two different languages (ASL and English) whereas "translating" takes place between two different modalities (signed vs. spoken) of the same language (English).



In a message dated 4/15/2004 12:30:05 PM Pacific Daylight Time, RobertCMazur writes:

I have the Instant Immersion ASL CD set, the "Concise American Sign Language Dictionary" by E. Costello, and "The Pocket Dictionary Of Signing" by Butterworth and Flodin. After reading all the ASL University FAQs, I've toned down my frustration level now that I can form some simple questions and answers from lesson 1, instead of just knowing random signs. When I take the local Canadian Deaf Association non-vocal ASL course, I'll just adopt the dialect of Canadian ASL used in my area.

The only real question is when making circles and arcs with hands and fingers that aren't designed to specify direction. Some reference material says to go counter-clockwise, some say clockwise, some don't specify. i.e. PLEASE, WHO(M), I SIGN. Personally, I don't think that it really matters.

In closing, don't the Deaf swear, or use profanity, or flirt? I only found the signs for
PEA-BRAIN, IDIOT, SEX and CRAZY in the dictionaries ;) My co-workers are really interested in learning "les bon mots" ;)

As Radio operators sign, in Morse code:


- Robert

That "Radio Operator Message" is pretty neat. It reminds me of TTY talk (Teletypewriter / Telecommunication Device for the Deaf / "Text Telephone" conversations).
You mentioned seeing various signs depicted in reference material with conflicting clockwise or counterclockwise movements. Many signs like PARENTS, MEMBER, and DEAF can be done "correctly" in more than one way. For example, the sign "FLOWER" can be done starting on either side of the nose and ending up on "the other side" of the nose. This principle is called "metathesis" and is a normal and accepted aspect of ASL communication. Metathesis also applies to the "circular" movement of various signs. For example you will see signs like COLLEGE, WASH, and PEOPLE commonly done both ways. Other signs using a circular movement however must be done a certain way or else they "look wrong." For example, the sign "HEARING/public/speak" is done with a circular up, forward, down, back movement. If you do it the other way, it looks unconventional (not normal). The sign "FAMOUS" also uses an up, forward, down, and back circular movement. If you do it the other way, it means "SUCCESS."
There are three main ways to become familiar with the proper "pronunciation" of signs:
1. Prolonged involvement and observation in the Deaf Community.
2. Taking classes from skilled instructors.
3. Comparing multiple ASL dictionaries to see which articulation the majority of dictionaries use.
Even after you have become relatively assured that you are doing a sign "correctly," chances are, someone, somewhere is going to disagree. Don't let this bother or frustrate you. Just smile and thank them for sharing their "knowledge." Then add their "opinion" to your list of opinions regarding the proper production of that sign.

Ordinal numbers

Univackid [10:30 AM]:  Hi Dr, Vicars my name is Paul I'm a big fan of your ASL University. Do you have time for 2 quick questions on ASL ?
BillVicars [10:31 AM]:  sure
Univackid [10:32 AM]:  How do you sign ordinal numbers over 10th
BillVicars [10:33 AM]:  I sign them by adding a fingerspelled "th"
Univackid [10:33 AM]:  really  that's it just "th"
Univackid [10:33 AM]:  1 more question
BillVicars [10:34 AM]:  :)
Univackid [10:34 AM]:  If ASL has no to be verb how does one sign a command like "Be polite to your parents" or "Be respectful of others" etc...
BillVicars [10:36 AM]:  Nod your head while signing.  For example I look at my kid and sign, "YOU SHOULD POLITE YOUR PARENTS."
BillVicars [10:37 AM]:  Or I'll sign, "YOU INTERACT PARENTS" (with my eyebrows slightly up and head slightly tilted forward) "YOU SHOULD POLITE" (while nodding my head twice).
Univackid [10:39 AM]:  is there a difference in meaning?
BillVicars [10:40 AM]:  No.  The first method is simply using subject, verb, object sentence structure.  The second sentence is "topicalized."  Both work just fine in ASL.
BillVicars [10:41 AM]:  A case could be made that the first sentence would be used between two individuals of unequal status.  Whereas the second sentence would be appropriate for individuals of a more equal status.
Univackid [10:41 AM]:  This is very exciting to talk to you see I'm an ASL 1 in school and I can never get the answers I'm looking for on questions like that from a textbook
BillVicars [10:42 AM]:  Alrighty. Well, you have a nice day. Good luck with your studies.
Univackid [10:43 AM]:  thanks

The sign for SCAR

In a message dated 4/21/2004 7:33:37 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Hi Dr. Vicars,

I am an ASL student and I had a question.  What is the sign for "scar"?  I have asked other students as well as several Deaf people, and nobody knows. 

Thank you!!

Glory B!

There is no "set" sign for "SCAR." Suppose you want to express the concept of someone having a scar on their face, what you would do is spell "S-C-A-R" then drag the tip of your index finger down the side of your face showing the location and size of the scar.  If it were a severe scar you would show this by through an "intense" facial expression and by using a quick, exaggerated, elongated movement. Also, if you are "talking about" something that typically causes scars, for example, "fencing," you wouldn't need to "spell out" the word scar.  You could indicate that one of the participants lunged forward and made a swipe with his foil, then you would role shift to the other person and drag the tip of your index finger down your face.  That would indicate he was "cut."  Then if you sign "HE STILL HAVE" and then drag the tip of your index finger down the side of your face, it would mean, "And he still has a scar." Dr. Vicars

Remember that discussion regarding the sign for Czechoslovakia?

In a message dated 3/31/2004 8:09:49 PM Pacific Standard Time, writes:
Dr. Vicars,

It seems that each time I learn a sign for a country, it changes on me. I can cope with that. The problem I am facing right now is with a country that no one seems to know the sign for- Slovakia. My boyfriend's family originates from there, so it comes up often in my signed conversations, and I have been coming up relatively empty-handed (ha- literally!). I found a site that had an OLD sign for Czechoslovakia, but since they are two separate countries (even two separate languages), I know there must be a way to differentiate a country sign as well. I'm getting very frustrated at having to fingerspell the country every time it comes up in conversation. Any help you can provide would be MOST appreciated.

Thank you

Lacee Burch
ITP Student in Aurora, IL

In a message dated 4/19/2004 3:07:56 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:
Hi Bill- I just learned this sign- there is Deaf person in town from the former Czeck Republic. She signed a "U" starting in front of her chin area and sweeping back passed her ear. Hope this makes sense.

Was the "U" palm back? Or was the palm facing to the side?

Hi- palm in, fingers up- kind of like the sign for Halloween but right one handed (dominate) and a bit lower- it ain't easy to describe signs through writing huh?-smile.

Got it. FYI, I also recently saw this sign done using the same sign as “GRASS.”

Generic Name Signs

In a message dated 4/9/2004 7:52:44 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:
My friend Charlotte can't seem to explain to me why sometimes we sign a person's name by using the first intial held at the chest over the left breast. Do you know what I mean? For example, if I'm talking about my daughter, she shows me to sign her initial "T" at my chest versus signing her whole name, but when she signs "Tony" which is her  husband's name, she doesn't do that.  I don't understand when to use the initial at the chest.    Thank you!!! :)   pam emick
The upper left breast area of the chest is a "generic" place to create a name sign.  Such a sign would simply be an "arbitrary" name sign that has no connection to the way a person looks or acts.  An other type of name sign is called "reflective."  These signs "reflect" some aspect of the way a person looks or acts.  Many people will tell you that only "Deaf" people should assign name signs.  Before you decide that this is simply cultural turf protection you need to consider a few things.  In reality you will find that many deaf people got their first name sign from a hearing parent or a hearing teacher of the deaf. Many hearing ASL students get their first name sign from their hearing ASL instructor.  The problem though is that most hearing parents of deaf children, some teachers of the deaf, and quite a few ASL instructors aren't familiar with some of the lesser known signs for sexuality and/or profanity.  Thus they end up assigning swear words, certain body parts, and various sexual activities as namesigns. 
The "best" method to get a name sign is to get involved with the deaf community where, in time, one of your deaf friends will assign you a name and it will stick. 


In a message dated 4/11/2004 6:36:23 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

I have a 76 year old friend who is slowly going deaf, and need some method of communcating. It's getting frustrating for both he and I and his wife, and we end up becoming mad at each other, as a result. I'm hoping to approach them on the subject of learning ASL, while he still has some hearing. But, it's very hard to get him to accept the fact that he is going deaf.

He's an excellent linguist, so learning ASL shouldn't be hard for him. And, we both share the same interest in ham (amateur) radio. He's an old time Morse code man, but he has to slow way down to converse with me using Morse, and that's only via radio. We need a better method for face to face communication.

As a hobby computer programmer, I find that the object orientated nature of ASL easy to learn. I'm hoping to gently prod him towards learning ASL. That way we start out at the same level. And neither will feel "put out" by the other. But, he's just so sensitive about his approaching deafness, that I don't want to
hurt his feelings. It's a if he's given up and started to isolate himself. So, if you have any suggestions
about the matter, feel free to jump in..

I wish there were a solid answer to age-related deafness issues, but instead there are only "ideas" that work in some cases but certainly don't work for everyone.

An idea would be to use a voice recognition program that types out what you say.  Then bring your laptop with you and have it open while you converse with your friend.  When he doesn't understand the words you speak to him, he can glance at the laptop and see what you said. 

Make sure his TV has close captioning turned on (if he would like).  Check into "VCO" (voice carry-over) phone relay services for your area. Such a phone would allow him to call people and speak with his own voice.  Then when the other person speaks, a "relay operator" will type out what they say and it shows up as text on a little display on a special phone (a "VCO" TTY). Literally, you could use your cell phone and be in the same room with him and speak into the cell and the operator would type it almost as fast as you are speaking and he would be able to see your words in near real time. Relay operator services are free. Check with your state's division of services to the Deaf for contact information for your local relay provider.  Or call your phone company and ask them.
Also, check out


 Signing Songs

In a message dated 5/3/2004 7:07:49 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Dear Mr. Vicars,

I am the children's programmer for a library and also the leader of a "sign language club" made up of 3rd - 6th graders.  We had a sign language class last October and the children had such a wonderful time that we formed a club.  Now, let my preface this by saying that I, nor my colleague are trained professionals by any means, but we try our best to use the signs in books and in your book, Sign Me Up , to have a good time and hopefully learn something at the same time.   Both of us have had some sign classes, but let's be real, use it or lose it, and I find myself losing it because I have no to practice it with.

My reason for writing you is that on June 14, the theme for our club meeting will be the flag.  I would like very much for the children to learn the signs for the song THE GRAND OLD FLAG.  I have Galludet on my computer so I can type the signs, however, I do not know exactly how to put them in order.  I notice that a lot of times, words are left out, and that they are not exactly in order according to the way they appear in the song.

I hope you don't mind my asking, but I was wondering if you could direct me to a place that would help me, or if you could tell me some basics for putting this together.  I would certainly appreciate it.  I don't want to do anything to hinder the children in their learning of sign language.

Thanks in advance for at least hearing me out about this.  My e-mail address is ndenton@quincylibrary. org.  I will be anxiously awaiting to hear back from you.

Thanks again,

Nancy Denton
Children's Programmer, Quincy Public Library

Honestly? Your best bet is to contact one of the local deaf groups and ask them for a Deaf volunteer who is skilled at ASL.
Then have that local person come and work with your group.
- Bill Vicars

Finding a "level 4" curriculum

In a message dated 4/28/2004 7:04:39 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:
Hi, my name is Toni Lynn Van Bramer. I currently teach ASL 1,2, and 3 to high school students in Rochester, NY. I am hearing. I just found your website and I like all the information you provide. Where are you located?   Also, I was wondering if you could recommend a book/text that students who will be entering ASL level 4 next Fall could use. Most students are coming in with high intermediate skills. We currently use Signing Naturally for the first 3 levels. Level 4 will be a new course in the Fall of 2004 and we have not yet found or chosen a text book. Can you help?   I look forward to hearing from you,   Toni Lynn Van Bramer Athena High School

Here at CSUS (Cal State Sacramento) we currently use "Vista" for levels 1-4. We use vista's level 1 workbook for our levels 1 and 2. Then Vista's level 2 work book for our level 3. And we use about half of the Vista level 3 workbook for our level 4 course. (Note: I do not make the decisions regarding which curriculum we use.  If it were up to me, we would use my "ASL University" curriculum for levels one and two.)
But, let me throw this out to my newsletter audience and see what they are using for ASL 4.

So, dear colleagues and students...what are you using for your advanced ASL classes?

More practice

In a message dated 5/4/2004 6:51:58 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Thanks Bill,   I would like to know how can I practice my signing when I'm not around anyone who is Deaf?  I tend to meet people who are Deaf every so often but I need more.  Any suggestions?   Thanks, William Perry
William, Here's a simple continuing education technique:  Watch educational films in ASL while getting dressed in the morning. You can watch while shaving, buttoning your shirt, tying your shoes, etc. Check with your library to see if there are any good ASL narrated videos. If not, try sending them the link to Check the ASL University Library for an article titled, "meeting deaf people."


Level 4 testing     

 In a message dated 5/6/2004 12:56:25 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Dear Dr. Vicars: I am working with one of our graduating seniors who has taken 3 semesters of college level ASL at a community college.  She did not complete the 4th course (which is what we require for our foreign language standard).  The student feels she is proficient enough to be tested for "intermediate level of proficiency" or the equivalent of 4 semesters of ASL.  Do you have any suggestions for how this student can go about this?  She is aware of the need to pay a fee for any test that would need to be done.   We are in the Atlanta area.   Thank you for any assistance you can provide.   Jennifer Cannady   Jennifer W. Cannady Assistant Director, Academic Advising Agnes Scott College 141 E. College Avenue Decatur, GA 30030 (404) 471-6284  

I'd contact one of the professors at a nearby college who teaches a level 4 class and ask him to administer a challenge test equivalent to his or her normal final for the level 4 class. Then he should give the student a score for the test and sign a document verifying the score.  The student should pay him $40 to $60 for an hour of his time, plus do all the legwork.
Dr. Vicars

Baby signing

In a message dated 4/27/2004 2:36:34 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Just thought I'd add a letter for you - in reference to teaching babies to sign - my middle son REFUSED to talk - until he was 3 years old.  We tried to "make" him talk - but, he wouldn't do it.  I'm an interpreter for the deaf - so, Sign Language comes natural to me.  I taught him Sign Language - so, we could communicate.  People criticized me - but, I knew that I needed a way to communicate with him - & - this was working - so, I wasn't going to be swayed to change.  That was almost 20 years ago (when it wasn't popular) - & - he still knows Sign Language today - tho not as much as I'd like.  All of my children know "some" signs - but, they are not interested in learning to communicate with it (Mom knows it - why should I learn it - she'll interpret for me).   Just thought you'd like to know - it's "tried & true" with me.   JMK

Deaf School in Ghana

In a message dated 4/27/2004 1:21:54 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

It was surprisinly surprise to me to recieve your letter.  I'm very happy to write this letter you, when I see your Dr. Vicars through internet.  It was wonderful Dr. Vicars.   I am deaf student of secondary Technical School for the deaf at Mampong Akwapim in the ghana and I have finished school in 1995.  There is no University and college deaf in Ghana.   Government of Ghana are not serious with deaf people are not having employment in Ghana.  I'm worry about employ and college.  Most of the deaf employment in the USA, influence Dr. Vicars university in the CA 'Luck' I wish to go to Dr. Vicars or I'll be visiting to you and I dont have any friend in the CA.   I saw that what happed on september 11, 2001, I felt sorry and some deaf people felt to them.  Many of the our American deaf readers are ignorant of the muslim religion it extremists. I dont have a visa.   God bless American University.  I want to go to Dr. Vicars University hoildays May, 1, 2004.  I have never forgotton Dr. Vicars.  I beg of you, give it video and Book in American Language sign to me.   God bless you.  I say thank you. Please dont hesitate to write. send me   Deaf C.O.C P.O. Box 0344 Takoradi, Ghana   Yours faithfully Emmanuel K. Botwe

Foreign language immersion center designed exclusively for children

I am contacting you from Language Playhouse, Inc. in Tampa. Language Playhouse is a foreign language immersion center designed exclusively for children, and we would like to add Sign Language as a foreign language. I was wondering if you had any contacts that might be interested in teaching at our facility, if you have any suggestions as to where we could find a qualified Sign Language teacher in the greater Tampa area, I would greatly appreciate you forwarding their information to:

Human Resource Director
Language Playhouse, Inc.
4920 Newkirk Drive
Tampa, Fl 33624

The sign for "accommodation"

 MargeMcLa1 [7:29 PM]:  Hi Bill, I would like to ask about how you interpret the phase  "if you need accommodations"?
BillVicars [7:31 PM]:  The sign "accommodation" is an initialized version of the sign "change."
MargeMcLa1 [7:35 PM]:  What I am looking for is ASL for the concept of asking if anyone needs special accommodations for a meeting, ie wheelchair accessibility, interpreter, FM loop, etc.   A deaf speaker used the sign -
for mesh together - (fingers of the five hands coming together with fingers sliding together, as they complete the motion of gears together the signer added sign for "support"  as I watched this I felt that the concept was right on the mark.  What to you think?
BillVicars [7:37 PM]:  I like the support sign.
BillVicars [7:37 PM]:  The "mesh" sign is typically used for "combine, roommate, partner, match"
BillVicars [7:38 PM]:  If it were me, I'd use the sign for "accommodation" and then follow it up with  wheelchair ramp, interpreter, FM loop, etc
BillVicars [7:39 PM]:  The "match" sign is an interesting choice and the more I think about it the more it grows on me.
BillVicars [7:40 PM]:  I'll ask around the department and see what others think of it.
MargeMcLa1 [7:41 PM]:  I have seen this sign used in may different concepts,
one I like was to bring your life in harmony with the rules of the house... my Dad always used that!  haha
BillVicars [7:42 PM]:  "harmony," yeah, very cool use of the sign.
MargeMcLa1 [7:42 PM]:  Well, thanks so much for allowing me to bounce this off of you!  (smiles) and thanks for the newsletter.  I really like it.
BillVicars [7:42 PM]:  sure...have a nice evening

Dear - cherished - beloved - darling

In a message dated 5/7/2004 11:57:17 AM Pacific Daylight Time, RobertCMazur writes:

Hello Bill,

I can't find the sign for "DEAR" or "CHERISHED" or "BELOVED" or "DARLING," etc., in my dictionaries, CDs or online. So, how does one sign "DEAR" as in "HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU DEAR ...?" Would you use the sign for "LOVE" or "HUG?" and fingerspell the person's name, or would you finger spell D-E-A-R as well?

Thanks in advance,


For "DEAR" just sign "LOVE."  Same with "Beloved." "Cherished" changes a CLAW hand into an "S" hand on the chin. Start with the hand palm back and the third knuckle (smallest) of the middle and ring fingers touching the chin. For DARLING, sign "SWEETHEART"  = Two "A" hands, in front of the heart, knuckles together  (like the end of the sign "GAME." Bend and unbend your thumbs a couple times.    

 To voice or not to voice

In a message dated 5/18/2004 5:56:27 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

We don't know eachother but I find myself very interested in you and I'd
like to ask you what is your opinion is that I set up the signing night
at the pizza place once every month a year ago and there are some deaf
and hearing mixer attation and I have notice that alot of hearing people
turned off and left due to not understanding what the others are saying
in our signing without interprete hearing people what they are saying
that bothers me alot... Uhmmm, how can I make this to work for both
hearing and deaf people involved without them having some hard feelings
itself... Sue my hearing interpreter friend said that it's best to
signing without voice which I disagreed with her becuz of the hearing
turned off! (but there are some agreed and some disagreed with Sue
thinks is best) So, what can I do to make this situation to work for
everyone, not just hearing or deaf but for both! Can you come in our
pizza place this friday and we can go from there? What do you think?
My name is Cynthia and Im deaf and I hope you are willing to help me, :)
I wish I had a millionaire to pay you for helping me out, Wink...
ThkYu for reading my email,
WstrnLdy Cynthia

Cynthia, What is the name and address of the pizza place where you meet? (street, city, and state) What are the "reasons" your hearing interpreter friend gave in support of keeping your voice turned off? What are the reasons some people gave for turning your voice on? Some people are against using voice because it requires a switch from ASL to "contact signing" (formerly called "pidgin signed English."  Their idea is that it is important for hearing people to learn ASL so therefore it is important to keep our voices off so we can keep signing ASL. My opinion is that events such as "pizza night" should be "bridges" not "fences." I don't have a problem with occasional use of voice at a deaf social to bridge a communication gap.  On the other hand, I think if you turn on your voice and leave it on you will generate "dependence" on voicing and some hearing participants will never learn ASL. In my ASL classroom I turn off my voice and leave it off.  Most of my students don't realize that I can voice because I never voice to them. I turn off my voice to establish a "dependency" on visual communication. But a classroom is different from a restaurant table.  In my classroom I have a laptop, an LCD projector, a whiteboard or chalkboard, and a prepared lesson focusing on a particular set of vocabulary and grammar skills. I have the resources to bridge the gap conveniently without voicing.  Now I ask you, in the real world, don't some deaf people occasionally use their voices with their hearing children, their siblings, their parents, their coworkers or employees to bridge the communication gap?  Why should it be any different at a pizza table?
- Bill


American Sign Language University ™ © William Vicars