* The sign for "capital D" Deaf
In a message dated 4/9/2004 11:31:19 AM Pacific Daylight Time, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Dr. Bill:
Anyway, I'm that guy here in Detroit who is studying
medicine at Wayne State. Tomorrow is my first
time to be in a social setting where Deaf people
predominate. It's a meeting of the Black Deaf
When the folks from DeafCAN came here recently
and opened my awareness about Deaf issues and I became
interested in ASL, I noticed during the conversation
that Chris and Marika, the presenters, used "Deaf"
and "deaf" in their speech... The voice
translator used the words "capital D deaf" and
"small d deaf" for us to understand. So, what are the signs
And by the way, I noticed a discussion about Slovakia.
It made me think, what is the sign for Ukraine?
If you are interested in this sort of discussion, read on. If not, please
excuse this email.
A student in Detroit writes... <<"The presenters used "Deaf" and "deaf" in
their speech. The voice translator used the words "capital D deaf" and
"small d deaf" for us to understand. So, what are the signs for these?>>
I'm doing a survey. What is your sign or set of signs to express "capital D
deaf" and "small d deaf?"
Bill's notes so far:
The sign "deaf" is typically done by touching the tip of your dominant hand
index finger to your cheek near your ear and then moving the finger in a
slight arc and touching the cheek near your mouth. The orientation of the
hand is such that the finger is pointing at the cheek.
Metathesis: This sign can start near the ear and move toward the mouth or it
can start near the cheek and move toward the ear.
- In some cases the movement of this sign has become very condensed. Some
signers use only a very small movement and arc. During rapid, casual
signing, the signer is simply "jabbing" his or her cheek twice in nearly the
- A historical variation of this sign used a combination of pointing at your
ear and then signing "closed."
Inflection: This sign can be inflected by touching the side of your dominant
hand index finger (rather than the tip) to your cheek near your ear and then
moving the finger in a relatively larger arc and touching the cheek near
your mouth. The orientation of the hand is such that the finger is pointing
generally upward throughout the movement of the sign. The duration of the
sign is increased. The movement of the first half of the sign (the rising of
the arc) is relatively slower. The second half of the sign (the
downward/inward movement of the arc) is very quick and ends with a definite,
solid contact to the cheek. The end of the sign is held slightly longer than
the non-inflected version.
Additional inflections: The head nodded once. The cheek is puffed out.
"Capital D" - Deaf: This concept means a person who is culturally deaf. One
way to express this concept is to do the sign "Deaf."
"Lowercase d" - deaf: This concept means a person who is physically deaf but
who is unfamiliar with Deaf Culture.
How do you indicate "capital D?"
Variation 1: Dominant "G" rests on base-hand "index finger." "G" changes to
a modified "C"-hand consisting of the thumb and finger.
Variation 2: ???
How do you indicate "lowercase d?"
Variation 1: Dominant "L" resting on base "index finger." "L" changes to a
Variation 2: ???
How do you indicate capital "D" deaf?
Don G. "I sign Deaf in the usual manner, but with NMS (stronger
movement, pursed lips)."
[Editor's note: NMM is an abbreviation used to mean "nonmanual
marker." Don is using NMS to mean nonmanual markers (plural).
Nonmanual markers include such things as facial expressions, raising or
lowering of the eyebrows, pursing the lips, tilting the head, shifting the
body, raising the shoulder to the cheek, and so forth.]
* Can you learn ASL on your own?
In a message dated 5/29/2004 6:17:32 AM Pacific Daylight Time, A student
My name is Lindsey, I'm 13 and teaching
myself ASL in hopes of becoming an interpreter. Is teaching myself ASL
not a good idea? should I wait until college???
I think it's great that you are learning sign language!
Dive in and have fun.
Just be aware that if you learn sign language from a book without a
qualified instructor or a helpful friend skilled in ASL you will fossilize
many small errors that you will later need to "correct." On the other hand, you
can learn a great deal about ASL, Deaf Culture, and Deaf history from
reading books and visiting web sites. Even better is to use full-motion
video. Also, you should look around for opportunities to get involved
with the deaf community.
I know there are some people out there who will disagree with my support
of autodidactic ASL acquisition. (An "autodidact" is a "self-taught
person.") But my philosophy is if I had to choose between hanging out with
a hearing person who signs a little strange vs. hanging out with a hearing
person who doesn't sign at all, I'd much rather hang out with the one who
signs. Then, if that person is humble, teachable, and hungry for
feedback I'll go out of my way to help them improve their signing.
* Can hearing people become teachers for the deaf?
In a message dated 5/30/2004 7:29:51 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
I wanted to ask you a question. If you
are hearing can you become a teacher for the deaf in a deaf school?
Would that be accepted in the deaf community?
Many teachers of the deaf are hearing.
If you want to be accepted in the Deaf community make sure you learn ASL and
develop a respect for our culture.
Go to Deaf events and get involved as much as you can.
*Should hearing people teach ASL?
In a message dated 5/15/2004 2:57:13 PM Pacific Daylight Time, email@example.com
In your opinion do you think it is fair
that hearing teachers teach the deaf?
I am doing some research to find out the
attitudes among deaf teachers and how they feel about their language
being taught by the hearing. How they feel about a hearing person that
has no ties to the community or any deaf family members learns asl and
then assumes the language and teaches it as a profession. What do you
Do you have any problems with women studying "andrology" and then
teaching it at a medical school? Andrology is the study of diseases and
anatomical features which are specific to men, (source: wikipedia.org).
Do you have any problems with men telling you that it is inappropriate
for you to become an andrologist and practice medicine in that field
because you are a woman. Do you have a problem with their reasoning
that you are a woman and therefore you can't possibly understand men's
health issues well enough to diagnose and treat them? What if you went
to medical school and got your medical degree with a specialty in
andrology--would a male plumber know more about men's health issues just
because he is a man (you might say that he has "the plumbing" --heh)?
Oh, wait, what if you got a sex change and became a man later in life?
Would you then be more qualified to study and teach andrology?
I personally don't have a problem with hearing people learning ASL.
Likewise I don't have a problem with a hearing person teaching ASL as
long as he or she is bicultural and truly knows the language.
Many of my friends however do have a problem with hearing people
teaching ASL. Just the other day I was having lunch with some coworkers
and this very topic came up. I mentioned to one of them that the other
"didn't like" so and so. The "other guy" made it clear that it wasn't
that he didn't like so-and-so (the hearing person), but just that he
didn't appreciate the hearing person taking a full-time ASL teaching job
that could otherwise be filled by a qualified deaf applicant (like
himself). His reasoning was that the hearing person could easily go out
and get some other job such as "interpreting" or working in some other
position that requires the ability to hear, whereas a deaf person needs
a job where hearing isn't an issue.
He is right.
I used to teach computer classes to hearing students. The money is much
better in the computer instruction field than in the ASL instruction
field. But I gave up teaching computers because I just can't hear well enough
anymore to teach in a noisy computer classroom. If it were a quiet
environment I could have worn my hearing aids; but aids are useless and
even painful when used in an environment with so much background noise.
(Digital processing and noise suppression circuits are improving
On the other hand, even though I earn less, I love teaching ASL because
I don't have to "hear" to do it.
Dr. Bill Vicars
In a message dated 6/1/2004 1:07:17 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
Thanks so much for getting back to me and being honest with your
response. In my survey I found that a majority of deaf teachers did not
like that hearing teachers teach ASL classes. In one of my responses one
deaf ASL teacher told me, "do you think it would be alright if I taught
African American Studies?" Of course she is white and was being
sarcastic, but her point was well taken. In comparison to my deaf
studies research, I also surveyed many students on campus and asked
them, "How would you feel about taking an African American Ethnic class
by a white teacher?" Their response was unanimous. Every student of
different ethnic backgrounds all said the same thing. That they would
not feel comfortable taking a class from a white professor teaching
African American Studies. They also said that the white professor would
not have enough knowledge or personal experience teaching such a class;
therefore, feeling that it would not be appropriate. Plus, they all said
they would benefit more from an African American professor, just like
getting the same benefits of learning from a deaf professor in an ASL
In my personal opinion I don't believe there is anything better than
personal experience that brings students the understanding and knowledge
of culture and language from that particular teacher.
First of all, don't be offended by anything I write below. I
respect your research and your efforts to understand this line of
inquiry. That being said, allow me to openly challenge some of the
reasoning expressed by your interviewees.
You stated that many students felt that a white person wouldn't have
enough "knowledge" to teach an African American Studies class.
That is ridiculous. I wholeheartedly disagree with that concept.
A white person with a Ph.D. in African American Studies certainly has
enough knowledge to teach such a class.
The other stated issue is that a white person doesn't have enough
Going back to my previous "medical" example. Does an instructor in a
school of psychiatry have to have "personal experience" with insanity in
order to teach psychiatry courses?
How about a social work instructor? Does he have to
personally come from a broken
I could go on, but to what avail? If a person has made up her mind on
this subject, further argument is unlikely to change it.
Instead let me suggest that a more pertinent question is, "To what
extent is firsthand experience better than secondhand experience?" Then
you need to ask questions like, "Is 30 years of intense secondhand
experience combined with teaching ability" better than 30 years of
firsthand experience with no teaching ability?"
Each and every hearing student in an ASL class is going to learn about
deafness vicariously--whether it be from a deaf instructor or a hearing
Let me tell you a bit about an English professor named Dr. Candadai
He was hired as a professor of English at Weber State University in
1969. He taught English for over 30 years at Weber where he received
numerous awards honoring his work as an educator. He was extremely
popular with his students. Two students who met in his class married and
named their child after him. He served two terms as chairman of the
English department for a total of 14 years.
There is no doubt that Dr. Seschachari is one of the best, most
experienced, and most capable English teachers in the world.
But here is my point: Dr. Seshachari is a native of India. He grew up
there and received his bachelors from Osmania University in Hyderabad,
It would be asinine to propose that since his native language wasn't
English and that his skin is brown that he is somehow unqualified to
teach English. I daresay that his knowledge of and experience with
English surpasses ninety-nine percent of the American population.
You could respond, "Well, that may be true for spoken English," but a
Hearing person cannot understand what it is like be deaf. My response
is, "Of course they can." That is what language is for: transference of
Deaf people understand what it is like to be deaf. They write it down,
put it in poetry, and make videos of it. What is there to prevent a
hearing person from reading those accounts, and watching the videos and
thereby developing a vicarious understanding of what it is like to be
A deaf instructor can stand up in front of a hearing audience and say
what it is like to be deaf.
A hearing instructor can also stand up in front of a hearing audience
and say what it is like to be deaf.
The deaf person acquired this knowledge from personal experience.
The hearing person acquired this knowledge from interviewing thirty deaf people.
To invalidate the hearing instructor's knowledge because it was
learned instead of "experienced" is to invalidate the entire education
Thanks for your response. I am not at
all offended by your answers. I love when people are open and honest.
You do have a good point of view and that was a very good example about
the English professor.
Well thank you so much for your input.
Lest people get the idea that I think all deaf and hearing teachers are
equal, I'd better make a clarification. The huge demand for ASL
instruction has outstripped the supply of qualified ASL instructors and many
schools have hired people who are only marginally qualified and some who are
flat out unqualified.
Many hearing teachers are lacking in ASL skills and cultural knowledge.
On the other hand, many schools hire an "instructor" based on no other
qualification than he or she is deaf and knows ASL.
Just because a person is skilled at speaking a language does not mean they
are skilled at teaching that language.
I've also seen quite a few instructors who are deaf, (or hearing) and have
"teaching skills" (which is to say, they can do things like organize a
lesson, stand up in front of an audience, present the material, give a test
on it, and document the results), but they are clueless as to the learning
needs of adult, hearing, second language learners.
The ideal ASL instructor is one who is fluent in ASL, has superb teaching
skills, possesses a vast array of teaching materials, loves teaching, and is
That is right, "bicultural." A teacher needs to understand the
culture of his students. A teacher who doesn't understand the culture
of his students often wonders why he isn't getting through to his students.
Monocultural instructors are surprised when their students exhibit
frustration or get offended over seemingly simple things. They tell
themselves and anyone who will listen, "Well, tough. That's just too dang
bad. We deaf people have had enough hard knocks, let the students
struggle this time. It's their turn to suffer." Then later these
instructors wonder why their attrition (drop out) rates are so high.
* One student's view of attending a deaf social
interested in WstrnLdy Cynthia's discussion of signing night at the pizza
I am hearing
and have been going to a coffee social in San Francisco.
Here is the
You probably have to paste it in to access the web page.
You can contact Laurie Chin firstname.lastname@example.org
She organized this very successful event. A wide variety of Deaf people and of hearing people
who want to communicate in ASL show up.
It seems to me that at the beginning of the evening,
I see many sign language students.
As the evening wears on, most people seem to be Deaf.
By the time Starbucks throws us out at 10pm, the
people still chatting on the sidewalk as I leave seem to be all Deaf.
ASL students are invited, and I have been made to
Communication varies widely. Some people voice when
they talk to me directly.
I don't find that particularly helpful. Sometimes I just watch other people signing. I
cannot understand yet, but just try to understand some signs. Sometimes
I will get the idea of the conversation.
I have a Deaf grandson who lives far away. I am a
very slow learner of ASL. Sometimes people with chat with me directly.
This makes it a little easier for me to understand, because I can ask
them to repeat the fingerspelled words until I get it. Sometimes I watch young Deaf boys making the
acquintance of young hearing girls. Then the signing is much clearer to
understand. Sometimes I watch political discussions as I can understand
the fingerspelling of "Bush" and "Iraq." There seems to be a good
number of foreign Deaf who are learning ASL, from Cameroon, Ethiopia,
New Zealand, China, etc. Sometimes I sit with Deaf people closer to my
own age. The coffee house location seems to make it easy to chat with
many groups, circulate around the room. There are a few Deaf people
there who can't be bothered with ASL students, but there are enough
people in the room that it doesn't really seem to matter. As a student,
I know it can be boring to chat with me for more than a few minutes. I
seem to be learning as much on coffee nights and I do on ASL class
Anyway, this is an old hearing woman's rather blunt
view of a "bridging" social.
Mary Ann Narita
* How to get students to stop voicing and participate more
In a message dated 6/1/2004 6:23:18 PM Pacific Daylight
Time, JBatt145 writes:
I know how busy you are and I hope you
will be able to help me out because since I've started teaching ASL in
1994, I've been trying to find different ways of grading high school
students on participation.
I am Deaf (some call me hard of hearing)
and I enjoy teaching ASL very much but the biggest challenge is trying
to get the students to stop talking and also trying to figure out who
is talking (you know how kids like to try to fool us). What do you do
or what would you do?
My grading system is on Participation,
Assignments, Quizzes, and exams. The participation points is the most
difficult to figure out. For example: I grade the students on signing
efforts in class by rating them 1 to 5 points; 5 points being the
highest points. This encourages the students to sign instead of just
sitting there and not earn points. Giving these students points is
not only time consuming but also I sometimes forget who deserved
what... My students also lose points for being late; they need to be
there visually in order to learn the language and they also lose
points for talking. I have heard of other teachers take points away
for wearing a hat because they can not see their face (facial grammar)
and for chewing gum because they can not tell if they are talking or
not; it's disruptive.
Can you help me think of a better way to
grade these kids on participation? What would you do? I would
really, really appreciate your help!
Thank you, Jenifer McManus :-)
two short answers to your problems of "getting the students to stop
talking" and "grading on participation."
the students talk.
grading on participation.
before you roll your eyes and assume I'm being sarcastic, let me assure
you I'm not.
I taught for 15 years
without a "no-voice" policy. It is only since I started teaching at Sac
State that I began requiring my students to turn off their voices. And I
only do it because of the prevailing instructional culture here. When they
interviewed me for my current position, the ASL coordinator here asked me
how I "dealt" with students who voiced in class. He seemed surprised and
skeptical of my answer when I responded that for me it has never been an
issue. I explained to the committee that students voice in class mainly
for two reasons:
don't understand what is going on and are desperately seeking a clue from
solution to the so called "problem" of talking in the classroom is to
teach in such a way that students are actively engaged throughout the
class and are able to follow the content of the lesson. It is also
important to empower students with tools to seek information without
resorting to voice.
realize there are many teachers out there who will heartily disagree with
me and who will insist that a "no-voice" environment is the way to go.
those teachers, let me share a few techniques to encourage a no-voice
(Note: I personally find many of these approaches distasteful but share
them with you since you asked.)
an expectation level. Type up a syllabus (yes, even for a "high school
class." In your syllabus clearly state that you reserve the right to FAIL
any student for voicing during class. Put this on your whiteboard or
chalkboard as well during the first day of class.
a digital camera to class. When you see a student talking, take a picture
of that student. Save all such pictures to a folder on your hard drive,
count up the pictures at the end of the semester and deduct one point for
each picture of a particular student.
a camcorder to class. Turn it on and aim it at the class. Explain that
part of the reason for this is so that when they are caught talking it
will be documented so when it comes time to assign them an "F" for having
talked during class you will have documentation.
a bulk supply of earplugs. Require the students to purchase a pair at
cost and wear them the first couple weeks of class to break them of the
habit of talking.
up a chalkboard eraser and keep it handy. Let the students know that if
they talk you will be throwing it at them…then make sure you hit the one
you are aiming for.
the names of each of your students. When students can't hide behind
anonymity they are less likely to break the rules.
the first day of class have students sign an awareness contract wherein
they state they are aware of the no-voice policy and that they are aware
that they may receive an "F" for talking in class.
three warnings. For the first warning, give them a verbal warning and let
it go. For the second warning write their name down and let them know you
are writing their name down. The third warning should be in writing and a
copy provided to a second party such as your supervisor clearly stating
that upon the next occurrence the student will receive an "F."
9. If you
notice a student talking, have him or her move to a different location in
class, or call him to the front of the class to engage in a signed dialog
as part of your lesson.
after the person who is "listening." Look the listener in the eye and
tell him or her in no uncertain terms to sign "SHHHH…sign!!!" to the
talker the next time the talker starts talking.
peer pressure. Divide the class into two halves. Set up a "score area"
on the board. Each time someone from one of the "halves" talks, put a mark
under their team. Near the end of class hold a drawing for extra credit,
early out of class, candy, or some other "goodie" for the half of the
class that talked the least.
up an "immunity idol." A necklace or whatever that a student can put on
if he wants to voice a question.
up voice days and no voice days. For example Tuesdays are no voice and
Thursdays are "voice available."
a drama student who is not in your class to come in the first day of class
and do some "acting" with you. Arrange to have him start talking in the
middle of class. Warn him once. Then when he ignores you and keeps
talking, grab him by the hair and twist his arm behind his back and throw
him out of class. Ham it up and put the fear into the rest of the
(If you do try this technique make sure to write me and tell me how it
As far as
"participation" the solution is in your curriculum. High school students
(students of all ages for that matter) want to participate. They
would much rather participate than be bored. The problem is they have
other wants as well. They want to look cool. They want to "save face."
They want to sleep. They want to get home and watch TV or play video
games. Students tend to fill whichever "want" is easiest to fulfill at
is to make participation easy and or essential. Many teachers try to make
participation essential by giving or taking away points. This is a lazy
or uninformed approach.
make participation a part of your curriculum via your teaching style.
example, suppose you are teaching the concept "blue." Call a student up
to the front and point at various examples of "blue" until she (Jane)
understands the sign. Then ask Jane if she has a blue car (or whatever).
Then excuse her to sit down. Then pick another student (Mark) and instead
of teaching your next concept, ask Mark if Jane has a car. If he doesn't
know, tell him to ask her if she has a car. Then after he asks and finds
out, ask him again if she has a car and get the right answer from him.
Then pick another student (Jim) and ask him what color Jane's car is. If
Jim doesn't know, tell him to ask Jane. Then ask Jim again and get the
right answer from him. By asking the other students questions about
previous dialogs you "require" participation. They don't fall asleep or
"stop watching" because they know there is a high chance they will have to
answer a question about what is going on at the front of the class. After
you have introduced five new concepts, put students in pairs and hand to
one of them a "practice sheet" with five questions on it that embed the
recently learned concepts. For example:
color your car? [What color is your car?]
(Note: "Wh" means to furrow your eyebrows a bit.)
color your eyes?
this room have brown hair?
your favorite color?
color _______ (point at something)?
first student gets done asking all five questions then the second student
goes. If they both get done, they can either ask other students who have
also finished or they can make up their own questions. As soon as all of
the students in class have finished with at least the first partner, bring
attention back to the front and move on to your next set of five concepts.
notice students talking instead of diving in and signing the sentences,
you have failed to do your job. It is not their fault, it is yours.
Figure out which of the two main reasons is causing them to talk: boredom
or confusion. Change your style accordingly. If they are confused, add an
extra layer of review to your instruction. After teaching the concepts
the first time go over them a second time prior to letting them loose on
the practice sheets. If they are talking because they are bored, (rarely
happens with a "question based" curriculum) then give them less time for
the practice sheets and move on sooner to teaching new concepts. Point out
to them that with this system you might just move on before everyone gets
a chance to finish both receiving and expressing the same five questions.
Make sure though that you alternate which partner starts each time you use
a practice sheet. Also change partners frequently. Explain to the
students that only one partner is to be looking at the practice sheet.
They should not put it between both of them and both look off of it.
Instead only one partner should have access to the practice sheet at any
one time. That way the second partner will have to pay attention to and
derive meaning from the first partner's signing rather than reading the
question "What color is your car?" and answering "blue" without having had
to engage his brain to figure out the first partner's signs.
You will notice that my ASL University curriculum practice sheets consist
almost entirely of "questions." Feel free to copy and use these practice
sheets in your own classroom.
giving points for attendance and taking away points for lateness. Instead
why don't you consider simply giving a daily quiz at the very beginning of
class? Those who show up late or are absent will miss the quiz and
thereby be penalized. Have students exchange papers and correct them in
class. It makes a great warm up review. If your school has a policy
against students correcting other student's papers, then buy $5.00 worth
of red pens. After signing the questions from you quiz, tell the students
to put away their pencil or pen and leave it "put away" until the quiz has
been corrected and collected. Then pass out the red pens and have them
correct their own paper then pass in both their paper and your red pen
prior to taking out their own pencils and pens again.
the things I do to encourage expressive practice is instead of me signing
the questions for the daily quiz--I call students forward at random to
sign the quiz questions to the other students. Each student only signs
one question out of the 20 questions on the quiz and then goes back and
sits down and takes the rest of the quiz. This provides yet another
opportunity for participation. I watch to make sure their signing is
within acceptable parameters. They bring their paper to the front of the
class. If they sign the sentence wrong, I mark that sentence wrong on
their paper. If they sign it right, I mark an "OK" on their paper.
Vicars of Lifeprint.com)
*Can a student achieve proficiency without classroom attendance?
In a message dated 6/2/2004 2:04:14 PM Pacific Daylight Time, email@example.com
when do you expect to expand your online lessons
to the next
levels? What I would like to do is become proficient in this language
using in-person classes (only because my work schedule doesn't allow
it). I am
not sure if any documentation of courses taken is required in order to
certified as an interpreter; I do know of the test that has to be
second question is: in your opinion, do you think obtaining proficiency
possible without using in-person classes?
I plan on expanding ASL U this summer to level 3. (Third semester).
I think it is possible to become proficient without "in-person" classes,
but not without *some* kind of regular, frequent, interaction with a
You can use books and online materials to help guide your learning, but if
you want to swim it helps to get wet.
It is technically possible to learn to swim without water. It is
also possible to learn almost any number of other skills without actually
physically being involved with the related activity. For example,
many prisoners of war came home with abilities they didn't have previous
to captivity. Their cell mates taught them how to play musical
instruments or use sports equipment that existed only in their minds.
Sports psychologists, Olympic athletes, and peak performers of all kinds
are familiar with the concept of "perfect practice." Doing a thing
perfectly in your "mind's eye" until you are able to do it near perfectly
in real life. If you don't have easy access to the Deaf community you can
still learn quite a bit of ASL by practicing on your own. But
remember--those POWs put in many hundreds and/or thousands of
hours of mental practice to become good at their target activity.
The trick for YOU is to avoid "imperfect practice" which is to say,
practicing mistakes over and over again because you don't have a skilled
signer around to set you straight.
*The sign for LIKE and the sign for WHAT
In a message dated 6/3/2004 2:11:13 PM Pacific Daylight Time, MESKIS
long time ago in a galaxy not too far away, I learned a different sign for
the word "like" than you have on your website. My Girl Scout troop was
learning to sign/sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and we were told that
"like" is signed by holding your palms down and bringing your two ring
fingers together until they touch (all other fingers are fisted shut).
Any truth to that, or have I been lied to for all these years? :)
You've been living a lie.
[10/5/04 Now, if you mean you were taught to bring your "index"
fingers together rather than your "ring" fingers together then perhaps they
were showing you one of the signs for "same" which would be conceptually
accurate and mean "like" as in "similar to."]
In a message dated 6/3/2004 7:09:35 PM Pacific Daylight Time, MESKIS
No. That wasn't a lie. It was more of a half-truth. Heh.
There is indeed a version of the sign "WHAT" that "slashes the
left palm with the tip of the right index finger." It is a real sign. I
used to use it when I was younger. I associate that sign with
"English-like" signing more than ASL.
I rarely see it being used by any of my friends or other skilled Deaf ASL signers
<<Well that's terribly upsetting.
In the same song we were told that "What" is signed by "slashing" (so
to write) the left open palm (face up) with the index finger of the
right hand. Was that another lie?>>
But the fact is the concept of "WHAT" is better expressed via a slight
furrowing of the eyebrows than by a separate sign. If you watch Deaf
conversations carefully you will note that they rarely use a separate
sign for the concept of "WHAT."
Consider this list of simple "what" sentences:
What is your name?
What color do you like?
What kind do you want?
What time are you going?
To sign these sentences in ASL you should simply furrow you
eyebrows, tilt your head back just a tad, and sign:
COLOR YOU LIKE?
WHAT-KIND YOU WANT?
(Note: the sign "WHAT-KIND" doesn't use a separate "what" sign.)
TIME YOU GO?
If you use a separate sign for "WHAT" in any of the above sentences--you
are wasting time and effort.
In a message dated 6/3/2004 7:55:55 PM Pacific Daylight Time, MESKIS
would explain why one of my campers looked at me very oddly when I
asked him "what" using the method I'd been taught.
*The sign for llama
message dated 6/3/2004 7:55:55 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
I have several friends who were asking how to sign "llama." I don't know
why, but they were. You're the only one I know of who could answer that.
I don't know the sign for llama. But why don't you try asking a contact of
mine down in Mexico:
Cabo San Lucas, BCS
CP 23450 Mexico
Robin knows MSL and some native MSL users who might have a sign you could
use. If you find out a good sign for llama, please do let me know.
On Thu, 3 Jun 2004 23:04:48 EDT MESKIS@aol.com writes:
I was directed to you with a question about how to sign the word "llama."
Several of my friends were asking me and I was clueless. Dr. Bill Vicars
recommended I contact you.
Any help is appreciated.
In a message dated 6/4/04 1:18:38 AM, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
Hola Carlea! I am not sure if you are asking about "llama" the animal or
"llama" the spanish word for call?
On Fri, 4 Jun 2004 07:02:25 EDT MESKIS@aol.com writes:
Lo siento! I meant "llama" the animal, not "llamar". My friends may be
odd, but I don't think they're bilingually odd.
In a message dated 6/4/04 8:11:10 PM, email@example.com writes:
Hola Carlea! While we do live in a third world country we don't exactly have
llamas running around...lots of dogs but no llamas. Below is the info that I
received from a fellow missionary to the deaf in Mexico...
Yes, there is a sign for llama. Touch the tips of your two middle fingers
[the middle finger and the ring finger] to the tip of your thumb on the same
hand [your dominant hand]. Then the index and pinkie fingers stick up to
form the ears.
If using your right hand, "walk" your llama to the left (or vice versa if
you are left handed). If done right, it kinda looks like a llama walking in
front of you. Your arm being the neck.
You don't have to do this, but I think it looks better. I don't put the tips
of my fingers together, but rather the pads of my fingers so that it looks
more like the llama's nose.
Interestingly, that is also the sign for Bolivia. That is ASL. I don't know
a sign in MSL for it.
Let me know if that helps.
*A sign you probably won't find in your ASL book
In a message dated 5/18/2004 7:55:11 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
Several of us were talking with our friend BT over the weekend and he
used a sign that none of us could figure out. I was wondering if you
might be able to tell me what it means if I describe it to you (we'll
see how good I am at describing signs! <:) ). We were talking about
creation vs. evolution and the sign he used seemed like it might have
had some sort of meaning like "blow a theory out of the
water"/completely refute/contradict/do away with, etc. (okay, that's a
lot of words to describe one sign... of course, maybe we were completely
off track with our thought pattern).
Anyway, here is my best description of the sign:
Two-handed sign, but only the dominant hand moves.
Left hand (non-dominant hand) is a 1-handshape with palm orientation
facing in, held in front of chest
Right hand starts as sort of an S-X handshape, moves toward the left
index finger, hits it and as it hits the right index finger flicks out
(so the right hand also becomes 1-handshape) and continues moving to the
left in an arc.
The final position of the right hand is 1-handshape, finger pointing
left, palm orientation down/back. The whole movement kind of looks like
you're trying to flick the left index finger out of the way with the
right index finger.
If you could tell me the meaning of this sign, I would appreciate it.
We've spent quite a bit of time looking up various words in the
dictionary and I have computer program that can do a parameter search
which I have tried, but it is really not very good at all (brings up all
kinds of words that don't actually meet the parameters). Anyway, thanks
for your help! Have a great day and SMILE <:)
The sign you describe means to "Miss the mark."
It can be modified (inflected) via expressions and speed to mean:
"totally off base"
It also can be used to mean, "change of subject."
*So, you want to teach ASL?
In a message dated 6/7/2004 12:27:32 PM Pacific Daylight Time, firstname.lastname@example.org
My name is Jenna and Im from Greenville, New York. It's about 30
south of Albany. I came across your e-mail address in the ASL
website. I am, and have been from a young age, interested in a career
ASL. I don't, however know exactly how to get on the right track. In
ideal career I would like to work with Deaf children and teach them how
use sign language to communicate to the world. I am also interested in
teaching in an academic setting. I was just wondering if you had any
suggestions as to where I can go to get information on these topics.
you for your time.
I sell a 62-page report that would answer quite a few of your questions.
If you purchase the report and have more questions, feel free to ask and
I'll add my answers to the report:
Two places that I recommend you go to investigate careers in teaching deaf
children and/or teaching ASL in an academic setting are:
The Council of the American Instructors of the Deaf at
and The American Sign Language Teachers Association at
*Dealing with the high cost of hearing aids
In a message dated 6/7/2004 1:08:43 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
Thanks for the great online newsletters, I enjoy them very much.
I was hoping you might be able to provide some info/insite for me.
My wife has had several surgeries on her ears when she was younger but
the degenerative nature of her hearing is such that she is now HOH. She
has been recommended a pair of hearing aids (miracle ear) for around
$900-$1000 from the hearing center. Our insurance does not cover hearing
aids, and she is not a candidate for an operation (Which they would have
covered). Do you know of any grants or programs that might help us to
afford these hearing aids? Are Miracle ear hearing aids a reputable
company? or are there better aids that might be less money? I want to
get her good quality but I don't know enough to know if I am getting a
good deal. What are you thoughts? Thanks so much,
First of all you might consider contacting your state's division of
vocational rehabilitation services. The exact title of the agency may
vary somewhat, but each state has an agency responsible for assisting
individuals with disabilities to become employable, get a job, and stay
employed. This assistance can take the form of training, advice, medical
help, and equipment. Such being the case, your wife might qualify for
hearing aids from the division of vocational rehabilitation services.
Since this will be your/her first hearing aid purchase, you might want
to consider getting a "disposable" hearing aid to start with. Before you
laugh or write me off as a nut, visit www.songbirdstore.com
-- and see what I'm talking about. A disposable hearing aid
costs about $50 and lasts approximately 400 hours. That could be a way
for her to see what features she likes and doesn't like in a hearing aid.
Next I suggest you visit
see what they charge on hearing aids comparable to the ones recommended by
your hearing center. You can make payment if you like. I had a pair of
"miracle ear" hearing aids once. I didn't like them. I've been very
happy with my Phonak brand aids though. Your wife's needs and my needs are
different though. I don't care if people see me wearing an aid or not, but
your wife may feel it is important to be as discrete as possible about her
hearing loss--thus she may opt for an "in the canal" style rather than
a behind the ear style.
Best of luck,
(Bill of Lifeprint.com
*Should this student go for her doctorate in Psychology?
In a message dated 6/29/2004 1:59:32 PM Pacific Daylight Time, email@example.com
name is Judy Foddrill, I’m in Lyes ASL II class this current summer
I am a
Psychology major, graduating this fall. My plan is to go to grad
school, either Masters or PsyD (Masters takes less time – I’m 49 this
year, PsyD enables one to do psych testing), then work primarily with
children and adolescents, including people who are Deaf. I
anticipate going to ARC. Here are my questions:
Should I have a Sign Certificate or Interpreter
Do you have an opinion on one versus the other degree –
Masters or PsyD? I plan to start my own practice, definitely want to
be able to work with people who are Deaf, want to be able to sign with
them w/o a third party, and now that I’m rambling not sure what the
degree type might have to do with that, but perhaps you have an
I have never regretted for a moment the sacrifices I made to earn my
When I was younger I made the mistake of going for a second-rate degree
from a non-accredited school. Then, after several years of feeling silly
and defensive I decided to go back to school again and earn an accredited
masters and and accredited doctorate from a respected university.
Earning a terminal degree in my field has brought me a tremendous sense of
accomplishment and self-respect.
If I were you I would definitely go for the PsyD.
I do suggest you pick up the ASL certificate (four classes). Afterward you
can look at your options and go from there. Take whatever ASL classes and
attend whatever deaf events are convenient
for you as you pursue
your main goal
of getting the advanced degree.
American Sign Language University ™
Lifeprint.com © William Vicars