Hello ASL Heroes!
Lately I've had quite a few requests for "fingerspelling" wallpaper desktop
So I took a few hours and built a few wallpapers for your enjoyment:
In a message dated 3/10/2006 8:59:06 A.M. Pacific
Standard Time, veryfunnie@ asks:
I want to clarify to see if star and socks differ in
LOCATION (parameters) since someone said it is a
MOVEMENT difference. Who is right?
Thanks in advance.
There are two main differences between STARS and
Location: STARS is done at around face level,
whereas SOCKS is done near belly button level.
Additionally, there is a difference in the parameter known
as "palm orientation."
Orientation: STARS is palm forward, whereas SOCKS is
The "movement" is essentially the same, however it might be
argued that the sign STARS uses a (slightly) larger movement
and or tends to be inflected more than SOCKS. Often you
will see people signing STARS using a repetitive movement
while sweeping it through the air (as if to show "many stars
in the sky). Additionally, we tend to use "eye gaze" much
more with the sign "STARS" than we do SOCKS -- look at the
sign STARS and/or look toward the "stars" while doing the
sign STARS much more so than we look at the sign SOCKS or
look toward our feet while doing the sign SOCKS.
Also from time to time you will notice some people opening
their mouths in a shape that looks as if they are
pronouncing the first three letters of the English word
"stars." I rarely see people mouthing the word "socks"
while doing the sign "SOCKS."
In a message dated 2/17/2006 8:10:46 A.M. Pacific Standard Time,
When you are emailing someone would you say "when we signed
yesterday," or "when we talked," or "when we chatted" ?
What would you say if you wanted to refer to a signed
"When we signed yesterday..." is a very awkward way to refer to a
I would most likely use: chatted, discussed, mentioned, went over,
talked about, our conversation...etc.
But the least likely reference to a signed conversation would be:
In a message dated 3/6/2006 3:26:27 P.M. Pacific Standard Time,
<<When you are interpreting in a classroom setting, if the
teacher is lecturing and asks a question and the deaf student
raises his/her hand to answer--but the teacher doesn't see
him/her or maybe has his back to the class--and students start
answering/having a discussion and the interpreter voices, how do
you indicate that it's the student's answer and NOT the
interpreter's ? Many times the students begin answering without
being recognized by the teacher. I feel sometimes that the
students/teacher think it's my opinion since they hear my
This generally only becomes a problem if you've established a
precedent of sharing your own opinion in the class in the past. The
way it should work is that you only voice the deaf student's opinion
and you never voice your own. You are not there to voice your own
opinion, you are there to interpret for the student. If you feel
this is a problem, then schedule a time to meet with the teacher and
explain the nature of your work to him or her. Then request that
the teacher, at an appropriate time, take a minute or two to explain
to the class how the interpreting process works.
I'm sure the teacher has certain equipment in the classroom. It is
normal and expected that the teacher explains to the students how to
use various classroom resources and equipment. A teacher might
explain to the students how to use an overhead projector, when they
can sharpen their pencils, her policy on passing notes in class,
seating arrangements, rules for bathroom breaks, tardiness policies,
and any number of other classroom management issues. You are just
one more issue to be explained.
It is your job or that of your supervisor to inform the teacher of
how you are to be used. It is the teacher's job to explain that to
the other students that when you speak you are expressing the views
and opinions of the deaf student and not your own views and
Note: I asked an interpreter friend of mine (Lynda Park) if she had any
comments on this topic and she sent the following reply.
<<In the classroom setting the interpreter strives to be professional at
all times and should have established roles from the onset. The
interpreter is not the student, nor the teacher, and should remember
their role as communication facilitator (or whichever currently used
term you prefer). Interpreters should not be
personally involved in class discussion, thus never blurring lines of
communication. Teachers know my voice as being the student's comments
during class time. I'm pleased at the ease of understanding and quick
reply on the part of the teachers towards their Deaf students. They
don't hesitate and look at me to identify which source to direct their
comments towards. It means I'm doing my job well. However, I am a
human being and don't behave like a machine during the workday. My
personality is still apparent in my presence.
In my experience, the first day or two of a new school year brings
curious looks from hearing students unfamiliar with the interpreter's
purpose when he/she voices Deaf students' comments, but the newness of
the situation quickly fades into understanding IF the interpreter is
doing their job properly. Yes, it is the teacher's responsibility to
manage the class and clarify roles to the students in the classroom.
They do that quite well!
In a message dated 4/4/2006 8:52:21 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
How would u sign "underestimate"?
i have searched online in dictionaries and i cant find how u would
would it be one sign? a combo?
How you express "underestimate" in ASL will depend on what is being
For example, if I underestimated an opponent's physical strength, I
I THOUGHT HIM WEAK, WRONG! HE STRONG!
If I have underestimated a test:
I THOUGHT TEST "NOTHING-TO-IT" HIT-(me in the face) HARD!
If I have underestimated expenses or money:
I FIGURED 50 DOLLARS. not-ENOUGH.
There are many, many ways to express the concept of "underestimate."
If it were to be used again and again in a spoken lecture I would not
mind if the interpreter signed "LESS-than ESTIMATE-(guess)"
In a message dated 4/6/2006 8:17:17 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
Hello my name is Misty Martinez. I am a student of American Sign
Language. I at first started to study the language because my niece is
deaf due to meningitis as a young child, but developed a love for the
language and for the deaf in general. Here is my question. At our church
at home in California, we used to do dramas or songs with sign language
also called blacklight, (where you sign with all the lights off and white
gloves) and since most of us that participated in the program were
either deaf or ASL students, we signed the songs in ASL using correct
signing and translation. Now I have moved to South Carolina, and the
church I go to now has asked me to participate in one of their "signing
dramas", but they have already told me that they will not be using
correct ASL and that they heard that the deaf do not like it when they
do drama the correct way. In my understanding if you do not sign
correctly, how are deaf people going to understand what you are trying
to put across? Also this seems to throw my education in the dirt, I took
the time to learn it the correct way, and in the correct way it is a
very beautiful language. It just seems very offensive to me is all. I
don't know who is right on this, but I have decided not to participate
in their program. What do you think?
There is a lot of variation out there. So I am cautious about announcing
a "right way" or a "wrong way" especially in situations involving drama
and performance. I guess the "right way" is the way that fills the
seats with people who have purchased tickets--and does so consistently
year after year.
What works in one part of the world won't necessarily work elsewhere.
The key sentence in your letter is, "They heard that the deaf do not
like it when they..."
What Deaf are "they" talking about?
Seems to me the people you need to be asking this question to is "those
deaf." (The ones who supposedly don't like it done the correct way.)
In a message dated 4/8/2006 9:36:09 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
Hi Dr. Bill,
I saw a couple of different ways to sign “you’re welcome” on your
website. A Deaf person once told me that “thank you” and “you’re
welcome” is the same sign. Is this a common way of saying thanks in ASL?
Also, I was wondering if you have any recommendations for a hearing
person to learn to “see.” I find myself saying the words in my head
automatically as I sign, as well as mouthing (not saying them aloud) the
words. I know that if I continue to do this, it will cause difficulties
later on in my ASL studies. Learning ASL is my love in life; I am very
dedicated to learning it correctly. As of now, I am only in Elementary
ASL I, with a wonderful Deaf teacher – an excellent teacher! Knowing
that you have many resources, I thought it proper to ask you this
Thank you so much!
I do not believe that you will have "difficulties" later
on in your ASL studies if you say words automatically in your head.
That is a myth. That particular myth hinders the development of
interpreters who can skillfully interpret from sign to voice.
When you research bilingual and multilingual cognitive development it is
clear that the human brain is fully capable of sorting it all out.
In a message dated 4/19/2006 7:43:17
PM Pacific Daylight Time, john@ writes:
- Reading through your Deaf Culture pages, I'm
struck by what seems quite strange to me. It's clear
that I'm not part of the Deaf Culture, even though
I've been HOH for many years. I don't have contact
with other deaf/hoh people and don't know sign
language. A light dawns, as I see the hints of what
exists there in the Deaf Culture, and I'm filled
with admiration and respect. I understand why they
would resent being viewed as "impaired", and I have
felt "disabled" for years. What seems strange, then,
is that they adopt the term "Deaf" to refer to their
culture, when, to me, it seems that is not at all
what the culture is really about. For example, I am
HOH, but that does not make me part of the Deaf
Culture. I am an outsider, and I hope I'm not saying
anything offensive, but it seems to me what
epitomizes the culture most is their ability, their
manual language skills, rather than their inability,
the lack of hearing.
- It would seem more appropriate to me to adopt a
"positive" name for the culture, such as the ASL
Culture, or the Manual Linguists Culture (when being
more globally inclusive). The word "deaf" refers to
the inability, the lack of hearing. So why is that
any less offensive than "hearing impaired"? And the
lack of the ability to hear is not what qualifies a
person to be a member of the culture, so the word
deaf is not even appropriate, besides being
- To me it seems like referring to the Spanish
Sub-Culture in the US as the Non-English. Like a
group of Spanish-only speaking people getting
together and adopting a name for themselves like The
Association of the Non-English. Rather than focusing
on what they can't do (can't hear), by calling
themselves Deaf, why isn't it that they focus on
what they do so well (speak a different language,
You asked, "Why is the term 'deaf' any less
offensive than the term 'hearing impaired?'"
Hearing people perceive the word "deaf" to be a
negative label describing an inability to hear. Deaf
people on the other hand consider the term Deaf to be a
positive label describing a community of people who
share a language and culture. Notice that the word
"deaf" (lower case) refers to the audiological condition
of not hearing. The word "Deaf" (upper case) is a
cultural term. We see ourselves as "Deaf" people, not
"impaired" versions of Hearing people.
The sudden granting of the ability to hear to a
"totally" deaf person would likely be extremely
traumatic. First of all, his or her brain would not be
wired to make sense of the incoming sound. All of his
habits would be Deaf. And almost all of his close
friends would be Deaf or CODA (hearing children of
You compare the Deaf to the Spanish. In doing so,
you make my point. Speakers of Spanish like and approve
of the term "Spanish." Whatever the phrase "deaf" used
to mean, whatever negative associations the phrase used
to carry--is not today's reality. The reality is that
Deaf people like and approve of the term Deaf.
In a message dated 4/20/2006 12:41:05 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
I'm pleasantly surprised to get an answer so quickly,
since I'm sure you are a very busy person.
I understand what you're saying, but I'm not sure I made
myself clear. I hope I'm not imposing by trying to explain
If a hearing person refers to a Deaf person as deaf, he
most likely does not understand the culture and the meaning
it has to the Deaf person. I didn't, until I read your web
site. You've explained it very well there, and I understand
that now. When most hearing people say "deaf", they most
likely do not mean Deaf, they simply mean to say "you're a
person who can't hear". So for the Deaf community to choose
to call themselves that doesn't gain them the respect that
they are looking for from the hearing world. The hearing
people "don't get it". They don't know there are two
different words, Deaf and deaf.
Another way to try to explain what I'm trying to say:
What is it that Deaf people are proud about when they feel
proud about being Deaf people? I'm thinking it is not the
fact that they cannot hear, but rather all of the cultural
things, including ASL, that they have developed. Their lives
as people, and as a People, and the fact that they don't
hear is not important, wouldn't even be wanted if offered,
as you say. They're proud of who they are, not what they
cannot do (hear). I'm not presuming to say I know, because I
don't. This is just what I'm thinking. Am I wrong about
I understand (now, thanks to you) that Deaf people
consider the term Deaf to be positive. But they've chosen to
create a new "name", "term" or "word", Deaf, as opposed to
deaf, by which they wish to be called by the hearing people.
They distinguish the two, deaf and Deaf, but they sound
exactly alike, so the hearing people are less likely to get
the message. If the Deaf people succeed in getting the
hearing world to stop using the term "hearing impaired" and
refer to them as d-e-a-f instead, will they have
accomplished anything? Where's the respect and understanding
when a hearing person utters the sound that's pronounced
deaf, if you have no idea if he means the same thing when
you utter the same sound, but are meaning Deaf?
Thanks so much for taking the time to communicate with
me on this. I'm honored.
At 08:58 AM 4/20/2006, you wrote:
We are discussing a classic "public relations issue." Is it
easier and/or better to come up with a new label than it is to
change public opinion of an existing label? To some degree,
this is a matter of pride. Regardless of how Hearing people
perceive the term "Deaf," we as a community are proud of the
label. To abandon that label would smack of giving in and of
being ashamed of who we are. Instead what we have is a type of
defiance. A counter culture that takes pride in the very thing
for which the majority culture pities us. Perhaps it is a
defense mechanism, but I prefer to see it as a form of social
evolution. The "pride response" is a defense or coping
mechanism developed by a social "animal" in response to a threat
presented by the environment (audism/oppression).
Now, let's compare this situation with that of "Americans."
Throughout the world, the people of many nations consider
"Americans" to be war mongering, indulgent, fat, self-centered,
So then, should Americans choose a different label for
themselves? We could call ourselves "Freedans" because we love
and support freedom. That way other nations would perceive us
as being lovers of freedom rather than drivers of gas guzzling
sport utility vehicles.
It is a fact though that labels are transitory. I suspect that
a few hundred years from now many of today's labels will be
In a message dated 4/22/2006 11:44:29 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
I understand the "pride response". That seems natural, appropriate
and healthy. I'm sure you're right about social evolution and things
I'm reminded of the Blacks. (I'm no sociologist, so please correct
me if I'm wrong; just my layman's understanding.) They first
preferred to be called Negroes, to avoid the derogatory term nigger,
then they preferred to be called Blacks, but later wanted to be
called African Americans. Not all of them, most likely, some may
still prefer Black. These are designations they chose for
themselves, and felt good about. And Black is similar to Deaf, I
think, in that the words black and deaf both describe just one
physical characteristic, but Deaf and Blacks mean much more. I'm
just guessing that the Blacks feel similarly about Black as the Deaf
do about Deaf. My uneducated gut feeling is that Black evolved to
"African American" because that more completely embodies everything
that they are wanting outsiders to understand when they refer to
them. The parallel that pops to mind is that Deaf might evolve to
American Signers, or something of the sort. Not that the term Deaf
would be discarded, just as Black has not been replaced by African
American. It's also a parallel that not all Blacks are African
Americans, and not all Deaf are American Signers (other sign
It IS a public relations issue, as you say. No easy task and one
that only happens over time. But one worth continually nudging
along. Rather than discarding the existing label, Deaf, the public
relations might work best as with African Americans not discarding
Black. Keep "Deaf", but make the term American Signers more common.
As for the "Americans" changing the name to "Freedans", I understand
your point. The Black=>African American illustrates more the point I
was originally trying to make. With both the words deaf and black
describing a single physical characteristic, and both words
potentially being considered a negative (deaf an inability, black
possibly evil, in the dark).
I agree with the Black / Deaf comparison. That idea crossed my mind
while typing an earlier email.
An interesting point though is that there are many "whites" living
Suppose they moved to the United States (as I'm sure some do). They
could "technically" be called African Americans.
Do you think they such "African Americans" could integrate well with
what we commonly refer to as African American Culture? And suppose
there were some sort of community event and one of these white
"African Americans" stood up and announced that he was African
American and how proud he was to be a "brother." How do you think
that would go over?
Hearing people may learn to sign, but they still don't know what it
is like to be physically deaf.
That knowledge is a large part of our culture. It is part of "the
Deaf Way." Deaf people, by virtue of having a shared experience,
have automatic connections to each other. Calling ourselves
something other than Deaf would lessen those connections.
Labels like Black and Deaf function in such a way as to draw a
perimeter around a culture. Sort of like wearing light or dark
jerseys helps to define who is on what team.
Calling ourselves American Signers would expand the perimeter to
such a degree that the boundaries of our culture would become
confusing and in a large part, meaningless.
Taken to the extreme, perhaps we should abandon all labels. No
Blacks, no Deafs, no Christians, no Jews, no Muslims--just billions
of Earthlings. Would the earth be a better or worse place? More
peaceful, but also more boring.
Note to readers: Don't take the following bit of information overly
Do you feel that sign language should be used with handicapped people? Why
or why not?
To put it in perspective, you need to remember that students are constantly
requesting that I help do their homework for them (instead of them
doing their own homework). Often they contact or approach me
because their instructor has "required" them to interview a Deaf person.
I try to respond to all of my email. But, you can understand, after
the first hundred or so interviews a person (me) starts to ask himself if the
problem isn't the student, but rather it is the instructors who are assigning
students to go interview Deaf people -- instead of arranging for Deaf people
to come to the classroom.
Putting the burden on the Deaf community is a lazy and cheap way to teach.
If you are going to be assigning your students to go take up Deaf people's
time, then hand your students a 20 dollar bill to give to each of the Deaf
people he or she will interview to pay them for their time, since their time
In any case, here are several questions recently asked of me by somebody
else's student and my answers:
Yes. Sign language enhances communication by either augmenting spoken
communication or replacing it when it isn't available. Sign language
encourages and expedites cognitive development, especially if and when used
prior to acquisition of verbal (spoken) language skills.
Should there be boundaries set with this communication?
Oh sure, there should be a few boundaries. No using sign language while
standing naked in line at the supermarket. No using sign language while
holding on to a vial of nitro glycerin. No sign language while holding TWO
cups of piping hot coffee. No sign language....
Come on now, your question is wack (silly). Plus, you misspelled "boundaries" (but I
corrected it for you).
I mean, that is like asking, "Should there be boundaries set on women?"
Nobo folks nobo.
That means "No Boundaries."
Do you fell that the hearing community has taken advantage of sign language
to communicate with HC people?
Do I "fell?" You must mean "FEEL!" (When you turn in this paper make sure to
leave it spelled "fell" okay?)
Sure, I fell, er, I mean feel Hearing people have "taken advantage" of ASL. The question
itself though smacks of cultural bias. When did using ASL become a crime?
Oh that's right--it was about the time that the Deaf Culture Police (DCP) started carrying tasers and mace. What are we so afraid of? Ooh the bad hearing people are
going to benefit from "our" language? A tragedy indeed. Tsk, tsk.
Okay you Deaf Power People (DPP), let's all lower our fist from it's
position high in the air and remove the other hand covering our ear and--GROW
Any other comments.
Tell your Deaf Culture Teacher he owes me $20 for helping him teach his
class. (Requiring students to interview Deaf people is a form of Asymmetric
Instruction. It is no different really from having a guest instructor come
to your class and spend twenty (or more) minutes of their time with your students.
Your instructor typically gets paid $60 an hour or so for student/teacher
contact. So, now I've invested 20 minutes (longer actually) in asymmetric
contact with one of his students, he should come teach my class for 20
minutes or pay me $20. [Or stop requiring students to request unremunerated
(unpaid) donations of time and expertise from the Deaf community].
Note: Readers of this newsletter may feel ("fell" heh) that I've been
overly harsh or rough in my replies to this student. Ask yourself.
How much time did the student put into this situation? Did he or she
offer to take me to lunch for my time? Did he or she even bother to spell
check? But that is not my real point. The sharpness of my
comments is more directed toward the instructors out there who give their
students assignments without providing appropriate avenues and methods to
complete the assignment.
I knew an instructor once who required her ASL 2 students to each interview
a deaf person and RECORD IT ON VIDEO as proof that they did it. That
means 25 students are now going to go waste the time of 25 Deaf people and glean only a very, very small fraction of the information they could
have gotten had they read a decent Deaf Culture book instead. While
many of these Deaf individuals won't mind doing the interview, many will do
it out of guilt or some sense of not wanting to be a bad person. Can you see
it from the point of the Deaf person? Sitting there patiently waiting
for a second semester Hearing student to struggle through sentence after sentence.
And it happens semester after semester. My opinion is that if the ASL
instructor wants his or her students to meet a deaf person, the instructor should HIRE a Deaf
guest speaker and PAY the
guest for his or her time, (and include mileage!). If the instructor
wants his students to have one-on-one time signing back and forth with a
Deaf person then the instructor should set up a lab and PAY a lab assistant
to come sign with his students. Sending students to go out and "find" Deaf
people is a cheap and lazy teacher's method of creating an artificial,
decentralized ASL lab.
was wondering if the deaf had any symbols or icons of deaf pride or if
there was something a hearing person could use to represent the fact that
they are involved with the Deaf? ...The reason I am trying to find this out
is cause i am getting a tattoo and want something deaf pride (even though
I'm hearing) and know sign.>>
an avid learner of ASL and Deaf culture, has written me indicating that he
wants to get a tattoo that shows his "Deaf Pride."
Pete writes: <<"
So, how about it folks? I'm not personally into tattoos, but Pete
poses a fascinating question.
What sort of tattoo would best indicate "Deaf Pride?" What visual icon
or printable symbol or set of symbols do you think best represents the
concept of Deaf Pride?