|Volume 1, Issue 25||
Hello ASL Heroes!
In a message dated 7/9/2005 9:51:36 PM Pacific Daylight Time, ellen_hanafi_____ writes:
Dear Dr. Bill,
Just as English is spoken in many countries, American Sign Language is also used in varying degrees in the Philippines, Ghana, Nigeria, Chad, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Zaire, Central African Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, Mauritania, Kenya, Madagascar, Benin, Togo, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong, Mexico, and Canada (Grimes, 1996). There is an "international sign language" but my advice though is for you to seek out Deaf people in your area and learn from them whatever sign language they are using.
Interacting with deaf people doesn't cause you to become deaf. Deafness is not "contagious."
If you learn sign language and hang out with Deaf people you may become bicultural (have two cultures or ways of thinking about things). You will likely become more visually attuned and during conversations will tend to use your eyes, hands, and facial expressions more than a typical person with normal hearing. If you hang out with deaf people you may fall in love with one. If you marry him you might have an increased chance of giving birth to a deaf child. It depends on if the father became deaf due to genetic reasons or if you carry a gene for deafness. Many children are born deaf due to illness, fever, or other event not caused by either parent.
One of my children was born hard of hearing. Did she get it from me? Maybe. My mother is hard of hearing, so is my brother. My wife was born deaf due to her mother having German measles during pregnancy.
You do not need to spend a lot of money on computer software or books to learn sign language. There are many free resources available on the Internet. (Lifeprint.com is one of mine--also see http://asl.ms).
I encourage you to pursue your goal of learning to sign.
Dr. Bill Vicars
[Reference: Grimes, Barbara F. (editor), (1996). "Languages of USA" Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 13th Edition. Institute of Linguistics. Retrieved 10 May, 2001: <http://www.sil.org/ethnologue/countries/USA.html#ASE>]
In a message dated 7/22/2005 12:30:03 AM Pacific Daylight Time, ellen_hanafi@_____.com writes:
In a message dated 6/16/2005 12:27:03 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, hi_i_must_b_jonathan@ writes:
In a message dated 6/20/2005 7:38:09 AM Pacific Daylight Time, hi_i_must_b_jonathan@ writes:
Okay, here's my view on ASL and Cochlear Implants:
I think nearly all parents of nearly all children (hearing or deaf) should begin teaching their child both spoken and signed language from birth. It is now a well documented fact that infants can begin effectively communicating via sign language much earlier than they can via spoken language. The vast majority of research and documentation I've seen also points to the fact that learning ASL actually facilitates the acquisition of spoken language. This is due to the fact that ASL promotes early cognitive development which in turn supports concurrent and later English acquisition.
belief isn't about "ASL purism" it is about providing the child (whether
hearing or deaf) with the maximum communication resources for his or her
This is called "horizontal transfer of learning."
The beautiful thing is that as an adult this person can now choose whether he wants to spend his time skateboarding or if he wants to go surfing--or both! (In real life though, as an adult he ends up going to work and has no time for either surfing or skateboarding!!!)
If only learning to speak were as easy for a Deaf child as it is for a hearing child. But it isn't. So the concept of opportunity cost comes into play. It is indeed possible for a blind man to become an expert at hitting a distant target with a bow and arrow. To do so he would need to try and fail many, many times. It might take him years, but sure enough, eventually he could hit the target. The question is, what opportunities did that man miss during those years of practicing hitting an unseen target? How many clocks could he have built, or clients could he have counseled, or bedtime stories could he have told? How many parties could he have gone to? How much fun could he have had or good could he have done? Focusing on developing that particular skill cost him a huge amount in terms of lost opportunities. What if he tried for years to become good at archery but never succeeded? Perhaps he would have been better off using his time more effectively? Similarly perhaps it is better for Deaf children to spend their time more effectively by learning ASL instead of trying to hit a target they can't see? Or rather--voice a target they can't hear? Who is to say that it isn't better to fully participate in a very small world than to marginally participate in a very large world.
Now, about cochlear implants, consider the progress of computer processors from the early eighties to today. Back in 1981 IBM came out with an "8088" chip that clocked in at about 4.77 MHz. If you are not familiar with the term hertz, it is a way of measuring how many operations a computer can cycle through per second. One hertz equals one "operation" per second or the ability of the computer to process one instruction per second. One megahertz, or MHz, is roughly equal to a million operations per second. A gigahertz, or GHz, is roughly a billion cycles per second.
Over a period of 25 years single-chip commercially available processors progressed from 4 MHz to 4 GHz. Which is to say they became literally a thousand times faster.
next 25 years we are going to see a continued phenomenal advance in
computing technology. The cochlear implants of today will seem like mere
toys compared to the technological marvels that our children
and grandchildren will be designing.
In a message dated 7/20/2005 4:01:24 AM Pacific Daylight Time, susan_paynter@ writes:
Hello Dr Vicars I am a mature student curently learning Stage 2 Bsl I also do Vaulantry work with Deaf Blind UK as in Telephone sapport and Pen friend I wonder if you could help me please. My pen friend is Deaf Blind and lives in UK she has an American Pen Friend her friend sent a Gold Badge that come out in America for School Children to be aware of sign Language as my friend
Are you saying that there is a picture of a "signed" word on the gold badge?
And you want to know what that sign means?
If so, what does the picture look like? Could you send me a photo scan of the picture or maybe describe it to me so I can tell you what the sign means?
In a message dated 7/20/2005 12:21:38 PM Pacific Daylight Time, susan_paynter@ writes:
Thank you very much for answering my E.mail I understand the School Children
That handsign is an acronym standing for "I Love You." It is a combination of the ASL fingerspelled letters "I," "L," and "Y." It is called the ILY sign. The typed letters "ILY " are often used as a valediction (farewell statement) in romantic emails, IMs, (instant messages) TTY (teletype) conversations, and other text-based correspondence.
In a message dated 7/20/2005 3:30:08 PM Pacific Daylight Time, susan_paynter@ writes:
Thanks a Million for your help god bless susan
In a message dated 6/30/2005 3:16:08 AM Pacific Daylight Time, locomotiveguy@_____ writes:
In response to your email I have added numbers 3 - 50 to the fingerspelling practice quizzes.
The website, (even though it has some 2,000 plus pages), is constantly under construction.
I full well expect it to hit 10,000 pages within a couple years.
There is no set lesson number or formula for how much you should know prior to attempting to interact with Deaf people, but since you asked, I'll share some thoughts on the topic.
The unasked question is, "How much do I need to know so that I don't bore, frustrate, or anger a deaf person via my attempts to communicate."
The answer to that question lies in the realm of sociolinguistics and varies from person to person. I've witnessed young deaf guys and girls going out of their way to spend numerous hours hanging out with attractive hearing members of the opposite sex regardless of the person's communication ability. Apparently hormones do wonders for one's patience level.
Those who are not "eye candy" (either no longer, or never were) and who are seeking to relationships based on communication will need to have a few other skills and abilities.
The more of these skills and abilities you have, the sooner you can succeed in interacting with the deaf:
Can you express yourself visually? Do you like playing charades? Can you easily figure out what other charades players are trying to communicate?
Can you read fingerspelling at one letter per second or better? Can you understand fingerspelled words at a rate of one letter per second or faster? Regardless what certain "experts" may tell you, fingerspelling plays a considerable role in everyday ASL communication and can be a huge help in many situations.
Suppose Bob and Jane both know 500 signs. Suppose Jane also knows fingerspelling, how to mime, and lip-reading. Bob doesn't. Suppose Jane knows how to inflect her signs and use facial expressions to add or modify the meanings of her signs. Bob doesn't.
It is quite possible that Jane can go to a party and have a fabulous time and communicate quite well with several new acquaintances. Bob, on the other hand, goes to the same party and ends up frustrated because he can't seem to understand a thing nor can he make himself understood to other partygoers.
The size of your vocabulary is only a part of the total communication process. Deaf people routinely hold conversations with Deaf people from other countries who use different signed languages. The actual vocabulary words (signs) are often quite different, but it matters little because the Deaf communicators have excellent visual conversation skills including mime, gesture, expressions, fingerspelling, and pragmatic (situation/context) awareness.
How smart are you? If I uncover a tablefull of various objects for sixty seconds and then cover them back up, how many objects from the table can you name? Ten? Twenty? The fact is someone, somewhere will be able to name more than you. That person will likely have an advantage over you in a social setting. If a Deaf person shows you a new sign how well can you remember it three minutes later in the same conversation? You will not do well in new language environment if you are dense, or need to see and practice a sign many times before being able to recall it. Nothing personal mind you, I'm just answering your question. You seem to like my website, so that is a strong indicator of intelligence right there.
How cool, funny, interesting are you? On a scale of 1 to 10 how with it are you? If you have no hobbies, no passions, no interesting stories, no jokes, and no clue regarding current events, it won't matter if you know 8,000 signs. You'll have a hard time communicating regardless of your vocabulary.
A large part of being "in" on the conversation is possessing a shared background knowledge. There is surface knowledge of the "current event" variety. And then there is a deeper knowledge of shared experiences, values, institutions, and comrades. Do you know the names and/or cities of the various State Residential Schools for the Deaf? Do you know the buildings on the Gallaudet Campus? Do you know the name of the president of that campus? How about the location of the last Deafolympics? The next? Where do we gather and hang out on a regular basis?
When you join us in "hanging out" we often make cultural references during our conversations. The more you know of our culture, the more you will be able to understand our conversations.
Some situations are intended to bring Deaf and Hearing people together. Pizza socials, ASL night at the mall, Ice Cream Socials, Silent Auction fundraisers for the local Deaf Organization, open houses, and ASL parties.
Go to these events and don't worry about signing. Focus on watching. It is okay to watch Deaf people communicating in those environments. If we want a private conversation we will go someplace else. If we come to an ice-cream social it is to be social and interact.
At first your conversations might be limited to spelling your name, indicating you are a student, and stating why you are learning sign. The next conversation you might add a sentence or two to that. And the next conversation you may get up to a whole handful of sentences. Keep studying hard enough and going to socials long enough and you will eventually be able to hold up your end of a conversation and have a good time doing so.
In a message dated 7/1/2005 1:56:19 AM Pacific Daylight Time, CLHAnthem writes:
I understand completely your frustration regarding your role as a hard of hearing individual.
I go through it constantly. Just because you can "talk" people think you can hear. Or just because you can figure out what people are saying in some situations (quite room, fresh hearing aid battery, good lighting, no mustache, no accent, no gum, etc.) they think you should be able to understand them in all situations (noisy car, bright light shining in your eyes, high pitched or low pitched voice, food in their mouth, etc.).
People need to get it through their noggins that we aren't faking it.
I'm considering coming out with a line of T-shirts soon. They will say things like: "Just 'cuz I'm hard of hearing don't think that I'm not ignoring you too."
Or maybe, "I'm hard of hearing. My kids are hard of listening. You? You're just hard to look at."
Should you get a TTY? Depends on a few factors:
A. Do you have plenty of money? Get one.
B. Do you have lots of friends or contacts who also have TTYs? Get one.
Otherwise I suggest you invest in a good text messaging phone.
For example, the Sidekick II by Motorola. Google: "sidekick II motorola" and check out a few of the results.
Or visit your local cell phone dealer that carries the Motorola brand.
I don't have one, but all my friends have Sidekicks and love 'em. A buddy who upgraded even offered me his old Sidekick (black and white version) and wondered how I've possibly managed to live without one so long. Eventually I'll go ahead and get one. It took me forever to get DSL because I'm such a tightwad er, I mean frugal.
You can use your computer and internet connection as an "outgoing" TTY without having to purchase a TTY.
Google "ip relay" to get a list of providers. Make sure to check out: www.ip-relay.com/
IP relay websites host "phone relay operators" who will call people for you and interpret back and forth so you can have a conversation. The operator types out everything the person on the other end of the phone says so you won't miss a word. Then you type your response and the operator voices it to the other person for you. Pretty slick, and it's free.
Here's an idea. Get one of those old fashioned body aids or "hearing horns." It might not help you hear any better, but when people see it they'll talk louder. Heh.
Hey, take care and give 'em lots of attitude.
In a message dated 6/15/2005 7:21:08 PM Pacific Daylight Time, CurlyJM writes:
You asked: "If I were to take a formal class, what would be the best way to inquire as to the instructor's use of [the student's] native language as a basis."
My response: There is no one best way to ask all instructors. But if it were me, I'd generally do it in writing. I'd email the instructor and ask her to send me a copy of the syllabus as an attachment. I'd also ask her:
How do you teach?
Do you use voice in class?
Do you allow your students to voice?
What book do you use?
Do you follow it closely?
Do you use transparencies?
Do you use computer projection (for example, PowerPoint slides)?
Suppose you had a student who was slow, how would you handle that student?
You asked, "Is there a method that you would recommend for learners to use to take notes so that they can review the presented signs."
My response: There is a system of ASL notation that is somewhat popular called "SignWriting." For the casual student I recommend however that they simply type up a note page that includes the parameters of a sign and other related details. Here is an example:
Let's make that even more specific:
Handshape: RH five (mid fing bent lg knuckle) LH loose flat hand
Location: RH above LH.
Palm orientation: down RH perpendicular to LH
Movement: Tip of R mid fing slides forward along back of LH.
Synonyms: naked empty available
Notes: Can be aimed to indicate things are empty (forget = mind empty)
You asked, "How are deaf children given vocabulary tests in school?"
Response: There are a number of ways. For example, you can show a picture and have the child sign it back to you. Better yet, you can show a scene and have the child describe to you what is happening.
You asked, "My problem is when I am facing the signer, that I can't figure out which hand is doing what. Do you have any suggestions to assist?"
My response: Note: This advice is not for everyone. It is for hard-core dexterity challenged klutzes. When taking a class sit at the front, off to the side. That way you can turn sideways somewhat in your seat and see the sign more from the teacher's perspective. Other than that, you can go through a two step process each time you see a new sign. Get in the habit of identifying the signer's right hand (if he is right handed). Then immediately form your right hand into whatever handshape the signer is using. Keep your focus on that right hand and mentally talk yourself though the movements, "He is moving his hand forward. He is moving his hand to his left." Listen to your mental directions and move your right hand forward and to the left. Do whatever movements your inner narration tells you. If it is a two handed sign, try doing just the right hand the first time through and then doing both hands the second time.
If ambidexterity is still an issue after the first few days of class, enlist the help of a friend to do a simple copying exercise. Stand opposite each other and have him or her make random (slow) hand, finger, and arm movements. He should move slow enough that you can keep up. (This might be REALLY slow at the beginning.) If he raises his right hand...you raise your right hand. If he moves his hand forward toward you...you move yours forward toward him. Keep this up until it becomes easy and natural. Also, switch roles from time to time so you can move your hands and see his hand movements in response.
In a message dated 6/15/2005 9:35:16 PM Pacific Daylight Time, a student writes:
Funny story: During my 1st ASL class I was waiting tables as a restaurant where we had to ask if the customers would like dessert. I had a table where the two customers were deaf. I thought I could use some of my new sign language so I made two small d hands and pulled them quite a bit apart a few times. The woman signed yes so I promptly came out with a dessert menu. She then began laughing. She took a piece of paper and wrote dessert and showed me the proper way to sign it with the two d's coming together a few times and close to each other. She then wrote divorce and showed the sign I had made. I was so embarrassed to realize I had asked if she wanted a divorce. Of course, she had signed,Yes.
In a message dated 6/19/2005 5:42:41 PM Pacific Daylight Time, redtalismn@_____ writes:
I'm sure we both know what she meant was, "If you hear or see me saying something but you don't understand the words, let me know so I can repeat."
If we changed the word in her sentence from "correctly" to "clearly" then perhaps her sentence would have made more sense.
But, still, what she did say was silly.
Your story reminds me of an incident from my youth.
I remember in third grade during a particularly noisy class session I looked up to see my teacher saying something. Being a curious and careful little wanker I went up to the front of the class to ask her what she was saying. She waived me to the side. I noticed a few other students had come to the front as well.
Soon the class became quite as the bulk of the students noticed the handful of students standing at the front of the room.
The teacher repeated herself in a now quiet classroom, "I recently said, 'If you can hear me, come to the front of the room.'"
She then proceeded to reward with candy and privileges those of us who "heard" her.
I've been hyper visually attentive ever since.
In a message dated 7/1/2005 8:48:25 AM Pacific Daylight Time, stmwater@_____ writes:
As you know, that is a hard question. If it were me I'd use electronic job boards and do searches for jobs with the word "deaf" in the description.
I'd also contact my state's school for the deaf and find out where and when they publish their jobs listing. Then I'd check it regularly to see if any "service" jobs opened up. For example, maybe working in the lunchroom or as a custodian.
For the most recent information on job opportunities contact the Scranton State School for the Deaf, Attention: Business Office, 1800 North Washington Avenue, Scranton, PA 18509; telephone (717) 963-4420; OR Department of Labor and Industry, Staffing Services Division, Room 1418, Labor and Industry Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120; telephone (717) 783-1290.
Also, you can look for other schools serving Deaf People. Check out: Penna School For The Deaf, 100 W School House Ln, Philadelphia, PA 19144-3499, (215) 951-4700.
In a message dated 6/24/2005 7:16:12 AM Pacific Daylight Time, lorisamson@_____.com writes:
Hi!! My daughter just turned 2 last week. She is not speaking at all. She can hear. Her pediatrician recommended teaching her "sign language" as a way of communicating. I do not know anything about the topic and am going to see a specialist, in the meantime, I have been doing some research. Your site continues to popup. Is your site an adequate source for me to learn from? Is it enough to begin helping my baby communicate? Thank you!!
Oh sure, my site is enough to begin communicating with your daughter.
If I were you I'd also check out your local library.
And check with your state's "School for the Deaf" regarding possible "Deaf Mentor" programs wherein a Deaf adult can come visit you and your daughter and help you with your language studies. If they won't or can't because your daughter is able to hear, then ask them for possible tutors that you could hire.
Also, you might want to conatct the American Society for Deaf Children and find out if there is a local chapter in your area. Here's their website: http://www.deafchildren.org.
In a message dated 6/27/2005 10:42:27 AM Pacific Daylight Time, sazawada_____ writes:
Use as many as you would like for your handout. No worries. I'm happy to do my part to support the Red Cross. Keep up the good work.
In a message dated 7/24/2005 10:49:06 PM Pacific Daylight Time, Gracemarie@_____.net writes:
Look around for a community ed ASL course. Such courses are generally more laid back and less demanding.
Also check your library for ASL videos. If they don't have any...ask your Librarian to hellp you borrow some through interlibrary loan from a library that does have them.
Most importantly though...you need to start meeting more Deaf people and going to Deaf events.
In a message dated 7/10/2005 6:15:27 PM Pacific Daylight Time, GERSTEINB writes:
Nonmanual Markers developed naturally as part of the language in the same way they did with spoken English. For example, "Why do you nod your head to mean yes and shake it to mean no?" It just started happening that way over time, it could have gone the other way: Bulgarians shake their head to mean yes and nod their head to mean no.
If you wish to study "nonmanual markers" in more depth you will likely find more resources by first researching "facial expressions," and "gestures."
In a message dated 7/29/2005 9:29:43 AM Pacific Daylight Time, randi@_____.com writes:
Your Question: 1- Am I correct in the assumption that I shouldnít try teaching finger spelling to my son until he can read?
My response: No. That isn't correct. Go ahead and fingerspell various words to your son. He will learn to recognize the fingerspelled words as "letter groups" that have meaning. For example, when talking about vitamins I fingerspell "V-I-T." One day my daughter Kelsey pointed to the medicine cabinet and did an interesting handshape that looked like:
As it turned out, she was combining all three letters "V-I-T" into one handshape. The fact that her handshape was an acronym for an English word didn't matter a bit to her. What was important to her was that it represented the sweet tasting vitamins in the medicine cabinet. English was not a middleman. The connection in her mind was direct.
2- Are there any programs you recommend for small children? Currently I have Instant Immersion (which doesnít want to work properly on my computer) and a video series where you are watching a deaf family during their every day lives.
My response: Of the well-known, popular products, the Bravo series seems to be the most geared to families with young children.
3- Should I follow your lessons on your site with my kids or are those lessons too advanced for small children?
My response: Use the "First 100 Signs Tour" at http://www.lifeprint.com/asl101/pages-layout/concepts.htm to start with. Then switch over to the regular lessons.
4- Should I learn some ASL first, or learn with my kids?
My response: Stay a chapter ahead of your kids. Learn it then turn around and teach it. You will retain more.
Tip: Try to develop connections to your local Deaf community. Keep your eyes open for deaf events.
In a message dated 8/6/2005 7:27:58 PM Pacific Daylight Time, DJ3262 writes:
On lesson 2 on the bottom part of the lesson, you introduce yourself, tell how many children you have, and give their names. logan, kelsey, ben, and sarah. then you have kelsey introduce herself, give information about her parents, tell that she has two brothers, one sister and give their names. logan, herself (kelsey), fred, and sarah. who's fred?
Any and all of those stories are made up. I may have at times "loosely" based them on my own family, but they are still just made up stories about "fictional characters." There is no Fred in my daughter Kelsey's immediate family. We have though at times teased our kids by telling them "there used to be a first-born named Tom and that we got rid of him since he didn't behave." Heh.
But I can see your point. It would "flow" better to have story 2 support story 1 from the "daughter's" perspective.
Thanks for the question/feedback.
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