● Graduate Level Online
Deaf Culture Classes
● Never too old to learn
● Empowerment and the Deaf Experience
● Man wants to propose in ASL
● Foreigner Talk vs Interference
● New ASL Teacher Feels Inadequate
● Using ASL to improve English literacy
● Are Deaf Schools Dumping Grounds for Multiply-disabled Deaf Children?
● Is a Deaf Coffee Chat a good idea?
Hello ASL Heroes!
Welcome to December's tantalizing tidbits of truly
tremendous tutelage. Thanks for all your emails and fun sources of discussion.
Remember, I might not be able to personally answer all of your questions but I
sincerely do try as time permits.
Take care, and enjoy!
Graduate Level Online Deaf
In a message dated 12/1/2004 9:26:56 AM
Pacific Standard Time, lindask3@ writes:
Do you know of any Graduate classes that
are online for Deaf Culture or Sign? I thought I would ask you first. I am a
teacher and need recertification points at Graduate level.
Also, a few months ago I wrote and asked
if it really mattered waht hand you used for a Dominate hand? Meaning if you are
right handed, but for whatever reason your left hand is more comfortable..can
you use that. I know people who say NO!
Thanks so much
Gallaudet.edu (Gallaudet University) has graduate level Deaf Culture classes
online. I actually registered for and completed one of their classes.
Let me give you my honest opinion of the
It was an "okay" class. But the teacher took a "one size fits all" approach.
For example, the instructor treated me as if I were a freshman college student.
She gave assignments like "interview 3 deaf people about how they feel about
Deaf Schools versus mainsteaming and write a paper about what you learned."
Well, gee, I've already interviewed a hundreds of deaf colleagues in my line of
work and daily interactions and thus I didn't "learn" anything new in that
little assignment. (Keep in mind, I've spent the last twenty-something years of
my life in the Deaf community, my coworkers are deaf, and am married to a deaf
woman for whom ASL is a first language.
Her assignment to me was sort of like if I assigned you to drive to the store
and tell me what you learned from the experience. Then when you tell me you
didn't learn anything new, I tell you, "Well, you didn't do the assignment
In my paper I told the teacher that I didn't learn anything new from the
assignment and that the reason why was because I had prior experience.
She totally blew off the last portion of my explanation and proceeded to bawl me
out for doing poorly on the assignment. (Keep in mind that I did do the
interviews, I did ask the questions, and I did record the results). But the
teacher couldn't seem to wrap her mind around the fact that this was a mundane
assignment for me and I was simply being honest in telling her I didn't learn
To get credit for the assignment I asked for permission to redo the interviews.
I "redid" my paper and wrote it as if I were a hearing newbie "discovering" all
these amazing things about deafness after having interviewed three whole
"DEAF" people, (a few of my many classmates whom I saw all the time.).
Ah! That did the trick...she was then happy that she had "taught me" something.
It is experiences like the above that convince me "seat time" is a terrible
measuring stick. As an instructor, my philosophy is that if a student can
demonstrate skill in a topic--you should be willing to give him a grade and
send him on his way without forcing him to warm a seat in your class. Boring
instructors bribe their students with "participation points" as a way of getting
students to stay awake in class. Participation points are bogus. Choose or
write a curriculum that is engaging in and of itself.
You don't have to award "participation points" or attendance points to get
students to play video games--do you? Why not? Because videogames are
interesting, challenging, and fun! Your classes should be the same way.
2. You asked about right-handed people choosing to sign left-handed (or vice
versa). A signer can choose his or her own dominant hand for signing and
fingerspelling. The important thing is to be consistent. I don't give a fig if
you eat with your right hand and sign with your left. As long as you are doing
of your one handed signs with your left hand consistently. Also use your left
hand (or chosen dominant hand) as the "moving hand" for
your two-handed signs in which only one hand moves. As long as you are
consistent it is fine.
However, if your signing is flaky and you do some signs with your right and some
with your left, well then, that is "nonstandard" and sticks out like a sore
Note: Advanced signers do occasionally
switch from hand to hand, but they do it for specific reasons such as
emphasizing a point or comparing two items.
In a message dated 12/12/2004 9:55:45 AM Pacific Standard Time,
I just wanted to say thank you for the
reply. I may take one online course about the Cochlear Implant. I went to
Gallaudet for two summers. The second summer two of my professors had gotten
CI's. I was dumbfounded. My other professor was very concerned about Deaf
Culture dying out. This is a BIG issue now. So I thought I would take the class
and find out what is going on.
I have a friend who became deaf. She got a
CI. Last summer her face went numb. They had to do surgery again. I think I
would rather deal with my Deafness then surgery and doctors.
Never too old to learn:
[This next email is regarding a previous
correspondence with a woman named Joan who will be 60 by the time she gets done
training to be an interpreter.]
I very much enjoy your newsletter and wanted to respond Joan. ...
I, too, an an "older" adult learner about to be 60 (in March). I have 3 nursing
degrees, a degree in theology and am an ordained clergy woman. I returned to
school to learn ASL so I could become an interpreter both in the medical field
and at church. Joan should know that age isn't a big factor when it comes to
filling those needs--especially medical. She already has that background and
could certainly use her existing skills once she becomes fluent enough in ASL.
I hope you will send her my reply or better yet, your own encouraging her to
keep going! We are never too old to learn or be of service!
[Aileen also suggested that a previous reader, Sandra Amundsen, should contact
the CA State Board of Registered Nursing in Sacramento about getting her courses
recognized for CEU's in the nursing fields. They may also have info about other
health-related fields for her.]
Empowerment and the Deaf
In a message dated 11/30/2004 8:59:22 PM
Pacific Standard Time, dcdirks@ writes:
Dear Dr Vicars -- I just
found the ASLU site tonight, and I have poured over it for several hours. I
feel a mixture of such gratitude to you, that you have developed this site, and
empowerment, that I can do something proactive about my increasing hearing
loss. In other words, I am NOT -- NOT -- a victim : rather, a spiritual warrior
facing new challenges.
Briefly, I have always
been hard of hearing, and have always had tinnitus. I was born this way. I
grew up automatically learning that I had to watch other people's mouths, to
understand what they were saying. I endured the all the childhood jibes about
me being "deaf", and so on. I was definitely in the "out" crowd in high school
and college; that didn't really bother me, because I compensated
scholastically. I did develop a "loner's" attitude, because I felt
uncomfortable in gatherings where I could not understand anything being said --
and I was tired of being told that I "talked too loud". Over the years, I have
found my own niche in life, and I am not unhappy.
This has changed several
years ago, when I developed both Congestive Heart Failure and Sudden Cardiac
Death Syndrome. I barely survived, but I have turned my bad lifestyle habits
around, and am now "out" of CHF, and I have an ICD (Implantable Cardiac
Defibrillator) in my chest. Twice since 2002 I have gone into fatal ventricular
arrhythmia, and have been shocked back to normal rhythm by my ICD. I am also on
a LOT of medications, to keep all things under control.
For whatever reasons,
probably a combination of both these life-saving medications, and my own altered
body metabolism, my tinnitus has increased to a "deafening" pitch, all puns
intended. I have been experiencing more and more frustration and anxiety, that
I can no longer understand people speaking, I MUST watch their lips -- and even
then, sometimes their mouths don't always form words, if they don't enunciate
clearly. I must have the TV, radio, CD's, etc., at a volume at home that is too
loud for anyone else. I am being frequently told now to NOT shout, sometimes
And it all came to a head
two days ago at work (I work in the dietary department at a hospital). I had
prepared and served our Meals-On-Wheels meals, and a volunteer driver came back
into the kitchen to tell us of a problem. Where I was standing, I could not see
this volunteer. I heard some noises, looked around, couldn't figure out what
they were, then heard them again louder (she was yelling "HEY! HEY!" I later
found out) -- then she began whistling very loudly and piercingly -- it was like
a nail being driven into my eye sockets. I went to her, to help her, and she
was so angry, and talking very loudly and fast, and I couldn't make out what she
was saying; then she began jabbing her finger angrily and repeatedly at her list
of meals. I finally understood her, but by this time I was extremely
frustrated, and I told her I would fix the missing meal, but would she not
whistle at me like a dog?
She went postal. All I
could do was walk off to fix the meal, and the supervisor had to take care of
What an education.
I felt such rage at myself for not being able to 1) understand her, or 2)
control my frustration at my inability. What I felt was the silent accusation
"Why do you have someone working here who can't understand simple words????" (I
actually have an Associates Degree, and am a Certified Dietary Manager.)
I finally settled down
(after taking a Xanax LOL); I smoothed ruffled feathers and kissed what I needed
to kiss to make everything OK again.
But of course things
aren't "OK again", and won't be. However, since I've had experience
"changing paradigms" in order to first survive, then thrive and live fully and
happily and productively (first when I came out gay; then when I was diagnosed
as HepB+, finally when diagnosed with CHF and SCDS) -- this is only one more
paradigm to change.
And so the kaleidescope is
turning again, to form a new pattern. I have found that being proactive is my
best therapy and rehab. I do feel "in between" worlds -- not fully hearing, not
fully deaf -- but learning ASL is the best positive thing I think I can do --
because it IS something that I can do. I am not a victim. I already know two
languages -- English and German -- so now I am adding a third. Someone
sarcastically asked me why I would want to learn ASL -- it wouldn't help me
communicate with THEM, hearing people. All I could do was shake my head, and
cryptically say "Empowerment conquers victimization," and left her wondering
what I meant. Since I must now pass through the shadowlands between the Deaf
and Hearing Communities, and am not really a citizen of either world, I must
learn the language of both.
I sincerely apologize for
the extreme length of this post! If I need a therapist, I should really cough
up the money and hire one, eh? LOL.
Again, thank you for this
site. I am going to learn the basic fingerspelling first, then proceed through
the lessons. I am also contacting local agencies (in Wichita Kansas), and will
investigate what kind of Deaf Community exists here.
There's something I've wondered about for years. I know most people would think
I'm silly for suggesting the following idea...but hey, I'm a dreamer.
I would like you to
investigate the concept of "noise cancellation technology."
I found the following on
the internet: [I sent him information on the related technology, you can find
Dwight, Now...here's my
point...we need to find out if it is possible to determine the waveform and
volume of the ringing in your ears and then have you wear a headset that beams a
sound signal of the opposite phase into your ear that will result in absolute
And even if that exact
technology doesn't exist now...someday technology could possibly be adapted or
modified to do this.
For example...someone with
tinnitus would be willing to spend HOURS on a graphic equalizer going up and
down the band until he or she stumbled upon the right waveform at the right
phase to bring blissful silence.
Who knows? It is worth
Dr. Bill Vicars
Man wants to propose in
In a message dated 11/29/2004 1:45:55 PM
Pacific Standard Time, clongo@____.com writes:
Hello Dr. Vicars,
My name is Chris and I want to propose to my girlfriend in ASL. I did not
know what order I put the signs in or which signs to use for "will you marry
me?". I do not know sign language that much (only fingerspelling), but she
does and I want everything to go smoothly. Thank you for taking time out of
your day to read this, your knowledge and wisdom would be greatly
appreciated. Thank you and God bless.
I reckon if you get on one
knee, look at her lovingly, place a diamond ring (boxed or open) on a nearby
table and sign "MARRY ME" with a pleading expression on your face -- she'll get
Good luck (if you haven't
already asked her).
Let me know what she says.
Foreigner Talk vs
In a message dated 12/3/2004 1:33:07 PM
Pacific Standard Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
I am doing my research for my presentation. I have two questions;
What is "foreigner Talk" and "interference" ?
"Foreigner talk" is
how you talk to foreigners. You simplify your own language. You don't use
their language, but rather you try to use your own language in an easily
"Interference." Suppose you know two languages. And while speaking one
of the languages you accidentally use or mix in some of the other language.
Knowledge the other language interferes with production of the target language.
William Vicars, Ed.D.
Asst. Professor, American Sign Language
California State University, Sacramento
6000 J Street
Sacramento CA 95819-6079
Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation, and School Psychology
Office: Eureka 308
New ASL Teacher Feels
In a message dated 11/28/2004 5:54:08 PM
Pacific Standard Time, A teacher writes:
I am in a
wonderful/dubious position this year. I am teaching ASL; yet my credentials are
in English and Art. I used to interpret for Shasta County Office of Education,
and when the principal where I teach saw that on my resume, she asked me to
teach ASL I. Well, I agreed, and the more I work at it the more inadequate I
Your Web site has given me
hope. I have succeeded in getting my course UC approved, taught the students
quite a bit of what you suggest, and have done a fair job at it. I am however,
feeling like a boring drill sergeant. I have trouble trying to keep my students
busy for 90 minutes a day.
Would you please let me
know which of your products would be most beneficial for me to purchase? Thus
far, I have made my own classroom decor (9-12th grade) and posters, but I want
to be an excellent teacher, not a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants one.
None of my students knew
they were taking ASL, and more that 80% of them have previously failed a foriegn
language. I am finding that they tend to use and respond to SEE Sign
grammatical syntax, but I want to move them to pure ASL at the semester break.
As I ramble, I think I am
just looking for some guidance.
I have one serious concern
about purchasing items form your site. Your address does not have an https
in it. Without the "s" I understand that hackers can spy out a credit that
occurred after buying online. Out tech department told us that if an address
does not have the "s" in it, not to make the purchase. Please provide input
about how to make my purchases and which items would be best to have.
1. Regarding ordering
products from my bookstore. I use CCNOW (and or Paypal) as the credit card
processor for the bookstore. During the last phase of credit card purchasing you
will notice that the web address switches over to
which has the "s" in
"https." The use of the "s" actually takes up more server resources
(encryption) than normal transfer, so it is often reserved for only the portion
of the transaction which involves your credit card information--that way your
information is kept secure without wasting internet resources.
2. As far as what to
order from my website, I think you might just want to get my book. You might
also want to order the "e-report" called "How to Make a Decent Living Teaching
ASL" (62 page report).
3. Feel free to make
photocopies of the items in the book as handouts for your students.
4. As far as guidance,
you might want to check out
www.aslpah.com -- that is where I post most of my "guidance" for people who
ask specific questions. Find the "archives" and you will be able to read
through hundreds of hints, tips, and responses to ASL teachers and students. If
you have specific questions you are welcome to email them to me.
5. To avoid feeling like a
drill sergeant get the students playing games with the language. Modify popular
game show themes for use in your class.
What I do is I teach five
new concepts then have them practice asking each other sentences with those
concepts. Then I teach five more and have them switch partners and ask each
other five new questions using the new vocabulary. I do that four times which
introduces a total of about 20 concepts. Plus I give a daily review quiz.
The quiz keeps their attention because it affects their grade and provides
feedback. The frequent interactions amongst themselves keeps them busy using the
language for both expressive and receptive communication. That is the key--keep
them busy using the language in creative, meaningful ways.
Good luck with your class.
Dr. Vicars (Bill)
Using ASL to improve
In a message dated 12/6/2004 1:53:47 PM
Pacific Standard Time, kormsby@Lee.Edu writes:
Hi Bill hope everything is
good for you J I have an off the wall question: Before the question I need to
set up my situation for you; I am a certified interpreter at our local community
college my students range in skill level in English and sign, (that may sound
surprising but is so true), anyway I have noticed those with higher sign skills
do much better at learning the ins and outs of English. As I am asked to tutor
many of my students for English class I want to boost their ASL skills in order
to help with their English skills. Okay here is the question: is adding to their
sign vocabulary enough? Are there other things I might do and if so what?
I do have to focus on the
class I am being asked to tutor for, but in order to explain how things are set
up in English I first show them how the concept is signed then what the English
words look like for that concept. Maybe the more important question is am I on
the right track? Am I out in left field? Please advise J
I think you are on the
What you are doing is
known as a bilingual/bicultural approach to literacy.
This same approach also applies to interpreting in general.
I expect interpreters to
supply the appropriate cultural and linguistic information that accompanies the
"words" or "signs" involved in the interpretation. This is not adding to or
changing the meaning, but rather providing a "full" and appropriate
interpretation. Some Deaf prefer and/or can benefit from minimal interpretation
because they already understand English and Hearing culture. These people are
bilingual and bicultural and simply cannot hear. Other Deaf people need
expanded interpretation because in addition to not being able to hear spoken
English, they also do not have the cultural background necessary for spoken
words to make sense if simply changed into signs. The same is true of Hearing
people. Some "Hearing" people have been around Deaf people enough to not need
an explanation/interpretation that the puff in a Deaf person's cheek as he signs
Deaf means "and proud of it" or that a "Deaf School" is considered more along
the lines of being a prestigious boarding school rather than some sort of
"institution." For other Hearing people though, you are going to need to
include that information in your interpretation else wise "something" has been
lost in "translation."
Are Deaf Schools Dumping
Grounds for Multiply-disabled Deaf Children?
In a message dated 11/26/2004 8:48:13 PM
Pacific Standard Time, irishasl67 writes:
i read your bio . thank you. so here are my questions. my research is on how
residential schools, main streaming, and total communication programs effect
deaf/hh children and young adults socially.
1. What do you think the benefits are of for the residential schools for the
the social development of a deaf child today?
It depends on which
residential school you go to. Some residential schools have become little more
than dumping grounds for multiple-disabled children for whom one of their
disabilities happens to be deafness. Some Deaf parents of Deaf children go so
far as to send their children to an out of state residential school rather than
have their child attend an inferior local deaf school.
Deaf schools have changed because now many "hearing" administrators think
that the schools are restrictive and limit social opportunities for deaf
children. They feel residential schools actually hamper social development.
There are many people out there who believe mainstreaming and oralism is the way
to go. There is a whole camp of people who believe that it is morally wrong to
send deaf kids to residential schools and rely solely on signing because they
say that will slow down their development.
But oftentimes the opposite is the case. A deaf school where signing is used
can provide a very good environment for the social development of deaf
children. As time goes on more and more schools adopt ASL (not just Signed
English or "simultaneous communication" but genuine American Sign Language) as a
way to teach deaf children. It wasn’t always that way. In the not too distant
past oralism was the main philosophy for deaf education. A major change in
philosophy started happening in the mid-nineteen-eighties. Some schools were
earlier, some later. (Interesting though—before that, in the “distant past”
signing was the norm, then oralism became popular, and now the switch to signing
is actually a reversion rather than something new.)
1a. do you believe the time spent away from their parents is out weighed by the
positive impact of having deaf/hh peers and teachers? if so why?
The answer is always going
to be "it depends." Everything in this field is situational. What if the
parents are Deaf? What if the parents are Hearing but know ASL? What if the
parents are Hearing but don't know ASL? What if the parents are Deaf but
alcoholics? What if the parents are Hearing and don't know ASL but are
extremely devoted, rich, provide lots of computer equipment and software, and
arrange for visits from a Deaf mentor? What if the dorm at the school is poorly
supervised and the kid is getting raped every night?
Obviously if home life is
little more than solitary confinement -- living in a communication vacuum-- then
yes the benefits of attending a residential school outweigh those of living at
home. However, if the family learns and uses ASL, the home is visited by Deaf
mentors, playmates who can sign are provided, the local school is supportive, a
homeroom with several deaf children is provided, and skilled interpreters are
hired, then I'd say the child is better off in the local environment.
1b. if not which program
do you think is more beneficial main streaming or total communication to the
child/ young adult socially?
Again. It depends. I'm
hard of hearing, my wife is Deaf. Our education needs were different.
Her first language was
ASL. She basically had no language until she was five. Then she attended a
total communication day program for the Deaf in Bakersfield, California. There
she learned ASL and started picking up spoken English. It was signing that
allowed her to develop socially as a child. Her best memories are of time spent
at "Deaf Camp" where she was surrounded by other deaf. I don't think
mainstreaming would have worked for her. She would have been miserable.
Mainsteaming worked for
me. But it is true that I spent much of my time as a youth frustrated with
communication issues. So, I ended up a voracious reader because it was easier to
read than to figure out what people were saying. Eventually I did develop a
circle of friends with whom I enjoyed spending time with on an individual basis,
but groups were never my thing.
As adults, Belinda and I
prefer to hang out with our deaf friends and attend a deaf social events.
But three of our children
are hearing and attend public schools. Our fourth child, Sarah, attended a deaf
school when she was younger, but is currently mainstreamed. We are now seeking
to have her attend a total communication program at a different school). Our
older children's teachers are hearing. Their schoolmates are hearing. The
neighbors are hearing. The grandparents are all hearing. The parents of our
children's friends are hearing. The doctor, dentist, and car mechanic are all
hearing. We are in a hearing world--whether we like it or not. We would prefer
that EVERYBODY in the entire world knew sign language and used it. That isn't
going to happen.
1c which kind program
would you have liked to attended? please expand on how you think this program
would have benefited you more socially?
I would have liked to have
attended a bilingual/bicultural English/ASL program where ASL and English were
both held in high esteem and used at appropriate times during instruction. It
would have benefited me socially because I would have had full access to
2. what changes in any of
these programs would you like to see in the future for the social benefit of
deaf/hh children and young adults. thank you for your time.
My philosophy is we
should set up integrated schools were three-fourths of the students are Deaf or
hard of hearing. The other one-fourth would be hearing. The teachers would all
know and use ASL. The students would all sign. Some of them would sign
straight ASL. Others would sign and voice.
I think deaf children
should learn signing first, then go ahead and learn to lip-read and speak to
whatever extent they can--within reason. It is a trade off. There is an
"opportunity cost." You could waste a lot of years trying to learn how to speak
and never develop clear speech. That time could have been better spent learning
to read, do math, or get along socially. Not everybody can pick up speech and
lip-reading, just as not everybody can get the hang of surfing or skateboarding.
It doesn't mean you are less intelligent. It just means you are intelligent in
other areas! If you meet someone who feels lip-reading is the best way to go,
relax, maybe it's the best way to go for
them. Each situation is different.
Is a Deaf Coffee Chat a
In a message dated 12/13/2004 1:16:35 PM
Pacific Standard Time, email@example.com writes:
Our church was inspired by
Maria Podbereski, a deaf lady that performs songs in ASL, to start a Deaf
Ministry. Several of us have basically been teaching ourselves to interpret for
the various singers, speakers, and preachers in our church. Sometimes I am sure
we are quite a spectacle!
I have a couple of
questions that you might be able to help us with, if you have time.
Would your book
Sign Me Up include hard to find
signs like "widow" and "tattoo"? We seem to have more than our fair share of
preachers who use impossible to translate words and phrases. How about
translating a message called "Snerd's Words for the Birds"?!? ( I am not
And would your book have
any information on interpreting those great big long Bible words, like
"abomination" and "lasciviousness"?
Along the lines of my
first question, how does one interpret cliches and metaphors? Maria told us that
most Deaf do not understand many figures of speech. Has this been your
experience as well? Is there an ASL resource that would help us with that?
Also, we have been
considering having a "Deaf Coffee Chat" in order to meet some deaf people in our
area, not only to "practice" on them but to begin to minister to them in
whatever way is needed - do you think that idea would fly in the deaf community?
I love your website and
the generous amount of information you have available. Any advice you could
impart would be most appreciated.
My book is intended as a
general introduction to ASL and Deaf culture.
Throughout its 212 pages
you will find discussions about ASL and deaf people and a hundred or so
signs. You will also find many handouts and fingerspelling activities.
One reader sent me this evaluation of my book:
"Having searched for a great comprehensive
text to teach ASL basics, Deaf Culture and etc., I believe your work exemplifies
this. I have used SIGNING NATURALLY (has its good points, but adult learners
become impatient with it, and feel that it is too juvenile; it doesn't take into
account the acquisition of the language adult learners already have), and
LEARNING AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE (again, fair, but so incomplete)... both are
Your book provides a WEALTH of resources. I only wish I found your website a
couple of months ago, so I could have processed my book order with your text and
videos for ASL III and IV (yes, sadly, much of what you exemplify in your ASL I
and II, students have not demonstrated a knowledge or mastery of, by the time
they complete ASL I and II in our local colleges... we have some 30 classes, and
I see students who are lacking in the basics in both my ASL III and ASL IV
classes, and feel I have to do a lot of "catch up" because of their lack of
We are going to have a curriculum meeting (all of the ASL teachers at my
college), at which I will be recommending your textbook and videos or CDs.
Keep up the wonderful work!
-- Mark C______
Certified American Sign Language Interpreter, CART/Real-Time Captioner,
Instructor (ASL III, IV)
Quite honestly? I think Mark is a terrific guy (I've known him for a while now)
but I think his praise is much stronger than my little book deserves (but it
makes me feel good to read it). The book (Sign Me Up!) is more of a set of
notes of things that I want my students to know about ASL and Deaf people so
they can fit into my world.
What YOU need though seems to be a large
reference dictionary for signs that are not commonly used. I recommend you
get the Random House Dictionary of ASL.
I also recommend you find
and use a local Deaf person as a resource to ask how to sign strange words that
you won't find in ANY dictionary (not yet anyway).
You interpret clichés and
metaphors by figuring out what they mean and signing the intended concept.
To sign long Bible words you can get a copy of the Bible on videotape and see
how the people on the tape use those words.
Yes, I think a Deaf Social held at a local cafe is an excellent idea. The
success of your meetings will depend largely on the demographics of your area.
Here in the Sacramento area there are a dozen colleges that teach ASL. Most of
the teachers require their students attend deaf events. I donate my time each
Saturday morning (7:45 a.m. heh) meeting with students from throughout the
region. We meet at a local Denny's. Some days there are over thirty students
there. Some days there are only six. It took two months before any deaf other
than me started showing up. One thing you could do is pass around a donation
box labeled with the intent to buy free breakfasts for deaf participants. Then
each time you get seven or eight bucks in the box go ahead and invite a deaf
person for a free breakfast. Try to invite a different deaf person each time.