An ezine for students and teachers of
American Sign Language.

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 February, 2006   

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Hello ASL Heroes!
I'm excited about a week-long ASL Immersion that I'm putting together for a few of the local School Districts this summer.
It will be near Lake Tahoe, (by the California / Nevada border).
It is targeted toward advanced signers who already know ASL and are striving to pass an interpreter certification test.
That being said, if you'd like more information, check out:
Take care and have a great month!
Dr. Bill

In a message dated 12/22/2005 3:31:47 PM Pacific Standard Time, bassoonist4evr@ writes:
Hi.  I have two cousins who are deaf and they have given me a sign for my name instead of fingerspelling my name all the time.  I am not culturally deaf, but I do know and work with a couple people who are deaf.  Is it appropriate to use my "sign name" with people other than my cousins?  If so, what is the proper way to introduce myself?
Thank you very much,
Yes, you should use your "sign name" with whatever Deaf people you meet.
While there is not one specific "best" way to introduce yourself, a good way to introduce yourself would be to sign:
HI,  I  L-A-U-R-A  S-M-I-T-H, (show name sign), HAVE 2 DEAF COUSIN.  NAME YOU?
Then be prepared to share the names of your Deaf cousins, how you learned (or are learning) sign language, where you live, where your cousins live and went to school, and other similar information.

In a message dated 12/13/2005 1:21:09 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, deafsharonann43@ writes:
Hi Dr. Vicars,
I like your website for signs. I am totally deaf myself. I know that many deafs use signs in different ways.
Although, I am surprised about one sign: cheat. Your sign for cheat is different up there from south where I am from, and I am sorry...little confused here, but it looks like "attack" to me in other word or way.
I sign that differently:
 1)   Left "i" letter sideway down and right "i" letter touching sideways many times
 2) Left arm hanging in air with closed fist while right "ILY" touching downwards on left elbow few times.
Maybe you can put or post those pics and/or "animated" videos for "Southern" signers or people..sound good enough??
I don't mean to critize you for your signs but that's how some of us deafs sign down here in I said there are most different signs in most different ways. Pretty right?
Sharon Ann, Vada, GA (outside of Camilla, GA)
Oh hey, I agree completely. I've certainly seen both of the very popular variations that you describe.  
I'll put that on my list of things to do: posting some variations on the "cheat page."
Thanks for the feedback and the suggestion.

In a message dated 11/21/2005 4:18:49 PM Pacific Standard Time, godblessevery1@ writes:
  My name is Juliet and I am a ASL 1 student at my local college. We must interpret a song of our choosing to perform in ASL in front of our entire class. Some of the students are a lot better in ASL than level 1 but are there because it is required to take that first. Not me. I am not fresh out of high school and have missed some classes due to illness, this semester. I am a single mom too. So, I am behind. My instructor doesn't have time to go over how to interpret a song. She says just pick a song and translate it to English, then translate it into ASL. I don't know how to do that. I copied the song I wanted to do (Christmas Shoes by Newsong) and wrote it in what I thought was "English" although I felt the song was already in "English" but I DO NOT know how to write it in ASL. That is something I was not taught. Could you please (If you have time) write to me about how to translate it into ASL 1. This is due December 8th, 2005 and I am scared to death. I don't want to drop this class. I wanted to take it because I think it is a beautiful language that can benefit so many people in many ways. I have just been diagnosed with MS this semester and my hands and mind doesn't work like it should and sometimes my voice stutters or goes away entirely. So, ASL will help me on those days tremendously. I also have to pass this class to move on. Would you, if you could, PLEASE help me. I will pay you for your time, if you let me know how much you charge.
I don't know what else to do or who to turn to.
I think the school you have is wonderful. My friend (she lives in Utah) taught both her sons sign language before they could walk or talk and it made them happier babies.
Please let me know as soon as you can, if you will help me.
Thank you very much.
Juliet St. Clair
You indicate that that your teacher has told you that she doesn't have time to cover how to interpret a song project she has assigned.  You also indicate that you have missed "some" classes.  You two sound like a good pair.  She doesn't have time to teach, and you don't have time to go to class.
Interpreting songs at a distance is very inefficient (except perhaps if both parties have videophone) so I encourage people to find local resources to help them out.
Now here is an important point.  It is your TEACHER'S JOB to either teach you, or provide you the resources to pass your class.  You wouldn't believe the number of students that want me to do their homework for them because their local teacher hasn't succeeded in providing a learning environment where the student can progress without having to seek outside help.
Since you are studying at a college there is a chance that your teacher is a full-time instructor.  Full-time instructors almost always have to post "office-hours" wherein they make themselves available to students who are struggling and need help.
So, the first thing you should do is find out if your instructor has office hours.  Check her door to see if they are posted.  If you don't see any posted, ask the teacher directly or inquire of the department as to your instructor's office hours.  If she has office hours, inform her that you intend to meet with her at her next available time slot.  Then bring your song lyrics and have her help you.
If she has no office hours, (due to being a part-time instructor) then ask her when she will be available to help you with your song.  If she still maintains that she can't help you, you might consider filling out a form requesting a grade of "incomplete" (instead of whatever grade you might otherwise earn) and retake the course next semester and schedule your time such that you won't miss class and will be able to keep up. If you honestly feel that the problem is her and not should consider clueing her in via a polite email or letter. If she remains clueless, then consider filing a complaint with her department so she doesn't keep doing this to future students. 
Now, perhaps you are thinking, "Sheesh, I was just asking for a little help and this guy is giving me a lecture.  I don't want to take an "incomplete."  I just want to learn how to sign a song.  I even said I was willing to pay him."
In that case, here's what I recommend you do.  Contact your college's office for students with disabilities.  Ask them for the phone numbers of two or three of their interpreters.  Call one up and hire him to interpret your song.  Borrow a camcorder if you don't have one.  Record him signing it and let him know that the video will only be used for personal study and the video will not be publicly displayed or published.
If that doesn't work out, write your name and number in the upper right hand corner of the board before class stating, "Wanted: Study partner to help me with my song.  I'd really appreciate some guidance, call or email me ______, sincerely Juliet."  And then ask your teacher to ASK for a volunteer and wait for a hand to go up.
Dr. Bill
Dear Mr. Vicars,
     I thank you for your reply. I will use that info. My instructor has 7 other classes and she says that she only takes appointments at the first of the year for the entire year. (Kinda like getting a reservations at Tiffany's) that makes it next to impossible to get her to help. I will try to use the resource of the OSD office. As I am a new client. I have been diagnosed with MS, Cancer and Diabetes this semester and can't seem to get any of them under control, so I have been in the hospital a few times. I am also a single mom and am doing the best I can with what I have. I appreciate your candor and your suggestions and mostly your site, It has helped me more than anything else. (The book we use in class is from 1991 and doesn't match what my instructor does.) Your site does. So, thanks again for keeping it going.
Juliet : 0 )

In a message dated 11/21/2005 9:01:10 PM Pacific Standard Time, allenrose@ writes:
how would you use past tense? like if you were to say "i spoke to this person" would it be implied or is there a special way that you show that your talking in the past tense?  thanx for your time.
emily bargas
Tense is generally established at the beginning of your conversation.
For example, you could sign:  YESTERDAY I TALK-WITH MARY.

In a message dated 11/30/2005 12:04:42 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, sloveall_60@ writes:
I have just happened upon your website and have really enjoyed looking at past issues of pah!  Thank you for all your hard work and dedication in making this website a reality!  I can only imagine how much time it takes!
I stumbled on your quizzes.  Do they correlate to a class?
Hi Sharon,
I teach several classes for various organizations. (Sacramento State is my full-time day job.) I use the / ASLU curriculum for each of my various classes.
It is a living curriculum and is constantly being revised (hopefully for the better) and expanded.  I make the curriculum available to others to adapt and use for their own classes.  As long as they don't turn around and sell it, nor post it to the web, I don't mind if they use it.
Currently I have a level 1 and 2 class and a few workshops.  As time goes on I'll develop levels 3 through 6 plus workshops.
Dr. Bill

n a message dated 11/30/2005 10:18:39 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, cynkaniski@ writes:

One of my level 1 students would like to know if there's a sign for "marshmallow"? I've never had that one before.

Cynthia Kaniski

There is a sign for marshmallow.  It uses modified 3/H handshapes on each hand to squeeze an imaginary marshmallow.
I'll post that sign for you when I get home from work today:

In a message dated 12/19/2005 8:27:26 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, NeoAnderson48@ writes:
I have a question that I haven't been able to figure out; how do you sign 'alien'?
There is no widely established sign for "alien." 
If I were telling a story to a child, I would show a picture (if reading from a picture book) and then I'd hold my index fingers on top of my head and wriggle them about as if representing two antennae.
In conversation with an adult, I'd fingerspell it.

In a message dated 12/20/2005 11:21:42 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, Ken writes:
<< Question for you, if technology advances to point of curing deafness, wouldn't there have to be an intact nerve?  Like [in my case], they totally cut the nerve out right up to the base of [my] brain.  Just curious of your opinion.

Scientists are progressing with nerve regrowth.  For example researchers have discovered that certain cells inside the nose "regenerate."  It is predicted that these cells can be transplanted and used to repair nerve pathways.
Google the words: " nose cells regenerate" -- to find out more about this topic.
Additionally, it is possible to take nerves from one part of the body and transplant them to other parts of the body.
Someday we will simply use synthetic nerves. 

In a message dated 12/12/2005 5:23:33 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, martin_philip_stradling@ writes:
... I currently live in Scotland and am going through the emigration process to move to Canada -Ontario - next year.  I decided that I wanted to get involved in the community as much as possible, as soon as possible after "Landing",  hence the reason for learning ASL (British Sign Language is apparently totally different, and would be little help to me in the long run).  The consequence of this is that I don't have anyone to practise with, so have to rely on what I get from the Internet.
The question I now have is this - how can I tell what is an official (for want of a better expression) sign, as opposed to a regional variation, or dialect, without access to a real live teacher?
Thank you very much for your time and keep up the good work.
Martin Stradling.
While there is no 100% foolproof way for a student to determine the level of accepted usage of a particular sign, an approach I suggest is to develop a small library of ASL dictionaries (five or six books or disks).  Then if a sign consistently appears in most dictionaries you can be relatively sure it is a "main" variation and widely used.
Those signs that appear differently in several dictionaries can be written down on the page of a pocket notebook and later (when you move to a location where you have access to the Deaf community) that notebook can be taken with you to deaf events.  Most Deaf people do not mind if you ask a few signs here and there as long as you do not become a pest and distract them from meaningful conversation with other Deaf. As you develop deaf friends you can ask them which variations they prefer.
Dr. Bill

In a message dated 12/28/2005 5:38:06 AM Pacific Standard Time, michaelgillensr@ writes:
Thank you for ASLPAH!
I am interpreting at McMichael Middle School in Nacogdoches Texas, under the emergency interpreter certificate working toward state certification wtih BEI. Are you acquainted with the new testing in Texas for interpreting levels of entrance, master and professional? Any suggestions on how I can prepare for the Test? I do not know what to expect!
Michael Gillen
Hello Michael,
Nacogdoches!  The oldest town in Texas!  I've seen some beautiful pictures of that place--all the flowers and greenery. I've got a friend that lives in Nacogdoches by the name of Scott Whitney.  He teaches ASL at a University there (Stephen F. Austin State University--I reckon Scott is still there?!?)
I'm not a guru when it comes to the Texas' interpreter certification process ...but such information as I have, I'll give to you:
Check out that link, and then send me whatever else you find out in your research and I'll post your findings to that page as an update to help others in Texas eh?
Take care,

In a message dated 12/28/2005 11:41:50 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, seremina@
Mina DesLauriers) writes:

<<In your ASL Pah newsletter, I read a feedback letter that someone sent you. It's below, if you don't remember it. I'd like to give her a personal response as well. You'll find it below the quoted feedback and your answer.  --Mina

<<<“In a message dated 10/23/2005 6:29:21 A.M.
Pacific Daylight Time, Dorsey writes:
Dear Dr. Vicars,
I was just shown your web site stating what it means to be "Culturally" deaf. I was appalled by some of what I read. Although I applaud your efforts to help the deaf, I find it incomprehensible to think that anyone would prefer to be deaf, rather than hearing. I can only assume you have never had normal hearing or you would not hold this view. A deaf person may develop sufficient language skills to communicate with other deaf people, but he fails to be able to easily communicate with the majority of the society in which he lives. Surely this is a disadvantage. A deaf person cannot experience the beauty of the sounds of nature such as water, wind, birds, pets, etc. And a deaf person cannot experience the beauty of music; one of the great artistic expressions of the human race. It is good to accept ones limitations, and do the best to compensate for them. But aren't there more advantages to being intelligent than mentally slow? Jesus healed the deaf. Why do so if it is not better to be hearing?
Dorsey Brandenburg>>>

It could be argued that men have it better off in society than women.  For example, there is research showing that men on average receive higher pay than women for the same amount and type of work. So then--since being male is advantageous--do you wish you were male?
--Bill Vicars>>


[Editors note:  The next few paragraphs are from late deafened adult Mina DesLauriers]

*** Mina writes: 
<<Dear Dorsey,

 I was born with hearing, but a combination of disease and abuse have caused slow hearing loss. Now, in my 20's and nearing my 30's, I'm nearly completely deaf. I would prefer to be either fully hearing or fully deaf.

 I say this because its no trouble to be either. But to be stuck between those two normal extremes, I am not comfortable at all. Living between "worlds" like this is very depressing and extremely difficult. I can't communicate well with either group. I feel immensely left out. My hearing aids don't help anything and doctors tell me surgery won't help. I hate being this way. I would rather be cured or be fully deaf. If I couldn't be cured, then silence is preferable. I find the whole experience of dysfunctional hearing to be humiliating, difficult, depressing, isolating, and throws me into discrimination on so many levels.  

I'll never have the same opportunities that fully hearing people have. Despite all my efforts, I don't think I'll have the same opportunities that fully deaf people have, either. It's difficult day in and day out. Not everything on TV is captioned. The theaters hardly caption anything for you. I like going to the ASL-signed Mass in Church, but I don't know enough ASL to really use it. I usually end up using the missal and reading along while trying to learn individual words by watching the signing Deacon. Had I been fully deaf and fully deaf-educated, I wouldn't have all this sorrow. Had I been fully hearing, again, I wouldn't have all this sorrow. I would think anybody would be thankful to not be in the middle.

 I agree with Bill Vicars' point of view. He's the only person I've encountered that has been supportive throughout my pain and trials. Without his website, I don't think I would've embraced ASL nor deafness. It is a comfort to have -some- communication, though on the whole its still difficult no matter who I talk/sign to. Some people would say I'm better off dead because I can't contribute anything to either side of society.

 None of my reply to you is angry and hateful, though I confess I feel offended by the feedback you gave the good professor. I pray that the Lord will grant you understanding. Always remember that love is the best language of all.
-- Mina DesLauriers>>

Bill’s thoughts on the topic:
I believe Dorsey is actually a very caring individual who is honestly flabbergasted by an aspect of Deaf Culture that seems totally foreign to her. I wasn’t offended by her question or her line of reasoning. At least she took an interest and made the effort to “ask.” (Many Hearing people never reach out to discuss their feelings and questions.)  Asking questions is the first step toward immersing herself in our community and becoming culturally aware (or even bicultural).  If she continues to ask questions and actually interacts with Deaf people, many of her misconceptions and prejudices regarding us (e.g. Deafness = mental slowness) will eventually be cleared up.
Dr. Bill

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