The Beauty of Sign Language and Inclusion

This is beautiful. The amount of work for the community to come together is immense but it would definitely be worth it! This video also highlights the possibilities created when technology (cameras, Samsung services, Youtube, etc.) is coupled with traditional learning (sign language courses taken by community members). The possibilities of learning are endless. Better yet, the possibilities of creating an inclusive society are at an all time high thanks to technology! 🙂

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My Family ASL Conversation

Taking in the feedback I have received, I decided to change things up this week and have more of a conversation. In this video I talk and sign simultaneously about my family. Give it a view and as always, comments and feedback are more than welcome!

I got the idea to do this from a fellow classmate, Rebecca, who is also learning sign language. She is doing quite an awesome job. Check her blog out! I look forward to collaborating with her later on in the semester. 

Some of the resources I used to practice/learn how to make my video are: 

Self-Reflection: 

I am getting the hang of this learning online thing. I am even starting to enjoy it! However, my video making skills are maybe 2 out of 10. I often cut my body off and this is a big deal when communicating via eyes and hands. I don’t want to make edits because i think that is a less truthful representation of what i know. For instance, when i paused to think of the “t” sign, I think that is an honest representation of where I’m at and how learning takes place. I also think by not editing things out i will be able to see my progress. Learning is not just about the end product, but rather the process, after all. However, i would love to figure out how to make the video bigger, brighter, and louder? Any tips are welcome! As for the sign language, I have what I’ve practiced down and just need to work on adding more speed.. this will come with time! Thanks for watching! 🙂

 

Time Signs ASL and Taking the “Time” to Reflect

Please feel free to leave some feedback in the comment section:

The camera is a bit further back this time; this was a correction I needed to make, as suggest by Nadene via email correspondence who noted that “ASL requires the whole upper body, not just the arms and face.”

Please view my model: Bill Vicar’s “100 Basic Signs” from 4:17 to 6:13.

Taking the Time to Reflect:

Thanks to networking on Twitter I was able to connect with Nadene who has signed for 25 years and is part of the deaf/hard of hearing community. Firstly, I would like to say how shocked I am that someone would be kind enough to take the time to watch my videos, give feedback, and send a very encouraging email. This connection is one that would not have been made without the internet/social networking and I am very grateful. Nadene was able to assure me that resources from ASL University are valuable learning tools. I feel very encouraged that someone who has spoken ASL for 25 years was able to tell me: “from the videos you posted, I think you are getting the gist of the alphabet and signs.” If you are reading this, Nadene, thank you very much for your time, honest feedback, and encouragement!

Although the benefits of technology have allowed me to connect and begin my ASL learning journey, Nadene made the point that I need to take my learning beyond a computer screen. She noted that learning a language is not something I can entirely do online as “ASL encompasses a culture that requires [people] to meet face-to-face in order to learn the social norms of that language.” The idea that I am not just learning a language, but also a culture is both exciting and frightening. I sometimes feel overwhelmed by this notion but I am just taking it day-by-day and I keep reminding myself that my goals are to prepare myself for a ASL class and work through the challenges and successes of self-directed, online learning. I am not expecting to learn an entire culture and language overnight. When I put it into perspective, I’ve been working on the English language for 21 years (four of them as an English major at the University of Regina) and I still have improvements to make.

Nadene’s comment that resonated with me the most is that “when it comes to expressive language, there’s really no substitute for face to face interaction — even if it is through Skype.” The quizzes and videos are a great way to improve my receptive fluency but I need to practice my expressive fluency face-to-face with someone else. That is the best way to “catch [my] errors and help [me] improve.” I also have noticed that at Camp Easter Seal I was able to pick up the basics of sign language easier because I was working with people who only spoke that language; being immersed in face-to-face interactions cannot be replaced by technology, although both have their positives. I am hoping to connect with another ECMP 355 student this semester and we can test out our receptive skills. It is on my bucket list to take an actual ASL course where I will work on expressive and receptive fluency with professionals. For instance, the Saskatchewan Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services host ASL classes in Regina.

This experience has reminded me and reaffirmed for me that technology and face-to-face interactions need to be balanced in our classrooms. They both have their positive and negative aspects but used together, the best and most-rewarding learning can take place.

Balance is key:

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 Photo Credit: Erin Costa via Compfight cc

ASL Places

My first take at ASL places signs:

My resources:

Bill Vicars “100 Basic Signs” (see: 2:17 to 4:11)

Paul Fugate‘s “Places in American Sign Language (ASL)”

ASL University – I have been using the quizzes to test myself. For instance, on February 20th I got 70% on fingerspelling test one and today (February 23rd) I got 100%. It is starting to feel good to see this success and I can feel it getting easier. It also allows me to practice interpreting (listening with my eyes) instead of just speaking with my hands, as true communication requires both parts. I try to complete one of these quizzes a day, as it is helping my retain what I have already learned and is allowing me to accurately self-assess if I am on the right track. For instance, I noticed that I need to spread my fingers more for “f” and that letters “e,” “a,” and “t” trick me sometimes when listening. I am so used to getting feedback and not having to self-assess/self-correct so I am thankful for this resource.

I am currently practicing time signs so stay tuned and feel free to leave some feedback in the comment sections!

Family Signs

For my major project I am moving on from the alphabet (insert slow clap) and onto family signs. So far Bill Vicars is the best teacher I have found. He has many ASL teaching videos on Youtube. I find it amazing how he offers his knowledge to anyone for free. In the video I have imbedded he teaches a student – and in turn, anyone else who watches the video – a 100 basic ASL signs. First they go over them together with the words on the computer screen and then she does it by herself when prompted. I have been taking it slow and repeating the same section over and over so that it hopefully sticks. My plan is to work on a section or two a week. After a day or two of working through the video, I will test myself (probably via flashcards to bring back Old School so it doesn’t feel like I am cheating on it with all of this cool New School internet/technology) and post the video.

Challenges: Now that I have found two sources that I really like, I have encountered other road bumps. For instance, watching these videos almost makes me go crazy because of the lack of verbal cues/sound (disclaimer: the jury is out for the ‘almost’ crazy assessment). I realize that this is a more realistic representation of how someone who is deaf or hard of hearing communicates, but I never realized how much I take hearing for granted. In school, we rely a lot on oral instructions to learn new information and share our ideas. I never viewed oral learning as one of my strengths but after playing this video for a while, I may have to start adding it to my usual “visual learner” self-assessment.

Another issue I am having is that I can’t figure out which hand to sign with. It is supposed to be your dominate hand, yet it feels more natural for me to sign with my left hand. However, if I start signing with my left hand than it gets complicated because most people sign with their right hand and I would have to reverse the signs. I already have troubles with signing things backwards/facing myself instead of outwards to the person I would be communicating with, so I think it is best to keep my right hand dominate. It is a bit confusing to watch someone sign and then repeat the action, but facing them.

Overall, I think I am doing alright. I really enjoyed learning family signs! Any feedback is welcome: How do I compare to the exemplar video? Do I need to slow down or speed up? Is everything clear? Any mistakes noticed? What could I do to create more engaging video? Etc. 🙂

History of Sign Language Basics

References: Deaf Websites; and Talking with Your Hands, Listening with Your Eyes by Gabriel Grayson

Names mentioned (and accidently butchered): Charles Michel De L’Eppe “Father of Sign Language,” Samuel Heinicke (oralism), and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (started ASL in 1800s).

Feedback is welcome! Leave a comment, critique, or an idea of what I should focus on! 🙂

Learning American Sign Language Online Resources

For my major project in ECMP 355 I am going to attempt to cross something off of my bucket list: learning American Sign Language! As a future inclusive educator, a tutor for those with varying abilities, and an employee at Camp Easter Seal in the summers, I feel that sign language is a skill I need to truly include all of my learners. I know that in 50 hours I will not be fluently signing even though I have used the basics at work and have a strong grasp of the English language. There is a common misconception that ASL is simply signing English words and phrases when in fact, an entire new set of grammatical rules governs the language. It takes just as long to master sign language as it does to learn a new language. BUT I am up for the challenge and so far these are the resources that I have found that will assist me on my learning journey:

Start ASL free online classes, resources, dictionary, product reviews, deaf culture information, course search, and workbook.

ASL University videos.

YouTube videos for practice.

Bill Vicars on YouTube

Expertvillage videos on YouTube.

My Smart Hands on YouTube for kids learning ASL.

Deaf Linx

ASL Training Programs

ASL Pro

I am also purchasing this book: Talking with Your Hands, Listening with Your Eyes: A Complete Photographic Guide to American Sign Language by Gabriel Grayson and I have the ASL and LearningSignLanguage applications.

I think I am all set for resources. The biggest challenge will be focusing, directing my own learning, and selecting the right resources. Wish me luck!