Boston Red Sox to Begin Training in ASL

By BitcoDavid

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

The 2013 World Champion Boston Red Sox will begin a program of ASL training for all players, according to principal owner, John Henry. Henry said, “This has nothing to do with communication. It occurred to me and to [team manager] John Farrell, that ASL would be a good way for our players to improve coordination skills and arm strength.”

An intensive program of ASL in conjunction with Ballet and needlepoint is scheduled to begin as early as May 1st. Participation is mandatory, and the association is currently investigating the contractual and legal issues.

“After all, we won the Series last year,” added noted pitcher Jon Lester, “so this year’s kind of a throw-away. I mean, what have we got to lose?”

Not to get caught behind the eight-ball on this, the N.Y. Yankees issued a statement that all players will now train with dark glasses, earmuffs and a cork in their mouths, while music from The Who’s Tommy will be blasted from the P.A.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

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Resolutions

By BitcoDavid

As a full third of Americans hunker down and prepare for Armageddon Storm 2014, I thought I might talk about some of my New Years resolutions. Now, I’m not a big resolution guy. I find that people tend to hit the ground running, but lose steam after about a month or so, leaving the resolution to gather dust in the basement, next to the treadmill and the Ab Buster. Conversely, I think if developing a specific habit is desired, it can be started anytime, and there is no need to await a new year. That  being said, we constantly reinvent and reapply ourselves, and Jan 2 is as good a time as any, to again pick up the bit, dig in our heels and renew our commitments.

First and foremost of course, would be Felix. I have no control over the plethora of factors effecting Felix’s release, but I can renew my commitment to his cause. We have only 300 more signatures to go, before we can send Felix’s petition off to my 2 favorite Republicans, Pam Bondi and Rick Scott. At the same time, Pat Bliss and a Pro Bono attorney are working on a clemency hearing for Felix. In fact, Pat should be returning from Florida soon, and hopefully she’ll have some news for us. In the meantime, we at DeafInPrison.com can double down and continue writing about Felix and his case, and keep beating the drum for you – our readers – to sign his petition.

Then there’s ASL. I would like to be conversational by this time next year. In fact, assuming that Dr. Twersky Glasner has another symposium this year, I’d like to be able to enjoy my lunch while signing away like a pro. No more banishment to the Hearie Table – population 1. I can learn to sign one-handed, so I can eat veggie wraps with the other.

De Niro in Raging Bull. Image: Andy's Film Blog

De Niro in Raging Bull. Image: Andy’s Film Blog

Of course some resolutions are more personal. I want to get better at inside fighting, and keeping my guard up on attack. I stay in pocket well, when I’m on the defensive, but I tend to drop my guard when I move in for a combination. And this coming Summer, I’d like to run a few more races than I did last year. 3 short years from the staring window, and I’m a boxer and a runner. Not bad huh? I think I’m the oldest guy at my gym.

Anyway, we have our work cut out for us. Happy New Year, and I wish us all success in 2014. Let’s make this the year that was.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

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Happy Saturnalia to All

By BitcoDavid

Joyce Edmiston is the owner of Xpressive Handz Blog. She has been a contributor to both the Stop Hearing Loss Bullying, and the Keep ASL in Schools videos. She is also a posting member of our FaceBook Group, ASL Learners by DeafInPrison.com.

Yesterday, she posted this video. It’s the perfect Christmas gift, Diabetically sweet. Add a puppy, and it would actually rot your teeth.

Enjoy.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

A Basic First-aid Class for Deaf Adults

By Joanne Greenberg

[Editor's note: This piece was originally written by Ms. Greenberg several years ago, so many of the time and date references may no longer be accurate. -- BitcoDavid]

Resusci_Annie photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Resusci_Annie photo courtesy of Wikipedia

The idea for the class came serendipitously. I was taking advanced first-aid and I mentioned to the Chief Instructor, that because there were a fair number of Deaf people in the Denver area, perhaps the class should learn some simple signs and the manual alphabet. I find Sign useful as an alternative means of communication when ordinary speech is impractical. The Instructor, being enterprising and adaptable, allowed me to do this. After the course was over, four of the instructors and one other student asked me if I would teach them basic Sign.

During those sessions we began to talk about the isolation that deafness imposes. The pre-lingual Deaf are often unable to get the simple life information that the Hearing learn informally from people around them. They are often further handicapped by reading problems and poor education. As these ideas were better understood, the instructors agreed that Deaf adults would be prime candidates for the Basic first-aid course.

I happened to know of an Adult Education class for the Deaf, and the co-leaders of this class, were delighted when I mentioned the possibility of a first-aid class to them. The class was taught in the basement of a church in downtown Denver. Its funding was partly private and partly state, and because it was both experimental and independent, we were encouraged to proceed at our own pace.

We began by having a simple social meeting with the class. The instructors’ Sign was still rudimentary, but it was important for the Deaf students to know that although there would be one or more interpreters for all classes, the instructors had taken the time and showed and interest in communicating with them directly. We have come to believe that this is a key point in the success of a first-aid program, that the instructors be well trained in all levels of first-aid instruction and also have at least fundamental command of Sign language. Sign helps break the reserve of the Deaf student and helps the instructor over any feeling of strangeness in working with all levels of Deaf people.

Formal sessions started with about 12 students, which soon dropped to 10. Their reading level ranged from about third grade to the post-graduate level and verbal skills had about the same spread. In addition we had an elderly woman who was so physically reserved the she was unwilling to sit on the floor during the first sessions and a middle-aged Black man who told us privately that he could never bring himself to have any physical contact with White people, especially women, due to the fear ingrained in him in his childhood. We also had two Hearing High School students, a boy and a girl.

The first classes were the hardest. We found we were going too slowly, teaching too much from the book. We were, in short, underestimating the intelligence of our students – confusing low language ability with low interest and competence. We soon began to feature practical demonstrations and to replace complicated explanations with role-playing. Our chief interpreter was intuitively alert to this and often gave up formal Sign for mime when the need arose. We divided the students into groups whenever we could and their competence with each other opened the way for them to demonstrate lifesaving methods on us. We faced the problems of shyness and race directly and frankly. In lifesaving situations, reticence and race have no place.

It soon became evident that more content was needed in the course and one of the instructors brought a Resusci Annie to class and gave everyone training in artificial respiration. The instructors and interpreters discussed this decision, like all others. We met at a local place for supper before each class and besides being pleasant; it was a good way of getting everyone’s views and feelings on decisions to be made and the progress of the class.

Most Deaf people depend on getting by with minimal understanding. Often they will respond to what they think we want, saying yes, yes, I understand, when they don’t understand at all. Some have grown up under the stigma, wrongly applied, of retardation, and will go to any lengths not to appear slow or stupid. Our greatest enemy in this class was phony acquiescence, and our pre-class talks allowed each of us to tell whether we had noticed any signs of misunderstanding of the body language that indicates pulling away, resentment, confusion or disapproval.

A paradox developed. We knew that we had been moving too slowly for these interested people and we began to speed up. (The class had stared on April 24 and we were halfway through May with only a fourth of the course finished.) On the other hand it was apparent that years of personal experience and a wealth of misinformation and old wives’ tales would have to be ventilated and put to rest before new learning could take place successfully. Because of the communication problem, the Deaf are keepers, storers of experience. The unexplained phenomenon, the misunderstood illness may be kept waiting for 25 years before someone comes who has the time and knowledge to listen and perhaps interpret correctly. We were slowed therefore, by the weight of the Deaf students’ pasts. (And, of course, butter on all burns – that’s what Mom did. The Deaf are nothing if not observant. In passing, it should be noted that one of the truest proofs of real learning I saw during the course was that one of the problems on the final was a 2nd and 3rd degree burn. We had butter, grease and margarine all over the place, and no one used any.)

Deviant Art - Alice of Spades (Don't worry, it's make up)

Deviant Art – Alice of Spades (Don’t worry, it’s make up)

Our strengths and weaknesses were becoming clearer to us with the passing of time. We had started speeding up the rate of instruction; we were relying almost entirely on Sign and demonstration. We were communicating without preaching, that first-aid can be done by Deaf people on other Deaf, or by Deaf people on Hearing, and that empathy and competence were the keys to success. One Deaf person described our sign as “groping, slow, clumsy and understood.” Our students understood and liked us.

The two Hearing students did not work well with the class. They seemed to feel themselves above the Deaf students and were self-conscious about role-playing. Whether this was Hearing or Adolescence we did not know, but they often made the class self-conscious and we all agreed that we would never again mix Deaf and Hearing students. Ultimately, they were the only ones to flunk the course.

Another misjudgment was our lack of a firm stand on attendance. Since the class was experimental, we started out by following the Teacher’s manual. The Basic course is supposed to be self-teaching; instead we had to resort to the lecture-discussion format. Usually, the reasons for missing class were good, but the effect on the teachers was demoralizing, since some of the students had shown very little retention of printed material that was not reinforced by discussion and practice.

Would you believe you can buy phony wound appliques on the Web?

Would you believe you can buy phony wound appliques on the Web? (Riseagainthenovel.com)

On June 30th we gave our final. We had tried written tests and found that 2 of our best students were failing, not because they did not know the material, but because their reading and writing skills were being tested and not their knowledge of first-aid. We met in the middle of June to plan a rigorous series of 6 accidents. Each accident had a victim, 2 first-aid practitioners an interpreter and an evaluator – unless the evaluator’s Sign skills were good enough to allow her to combine the functions. The victims were purposely both Deaf and Hearing, and some were complete strangers who had never worked with Deaf people before. We made sure more than one of the victims was a White woman.

The problems were: heart attack, open fracture of the jaw, second and third degree burns of the arm, Annie in asphyxiation, a suicide attempt using drugs, a fall from a ladder, shock and a fractured leg. Props and moulages were used and the blood flowed like wine, but no special allowances were made for physical reticence or the problems of inability to communicate with the Hearing. The students were forced to make Hearing strangers understand their intentions by whatever means were at their command. In this, they were remarkably successful.

We had often spoken of two pars of our goal for the class. First, that we might begin to train Deaf adults in first-aid skills and safety-consciousness, second, that we might be able to find and train a small cops of Deaf instructors who would be able to train other Deaf people, with more punch, wit and relevance the new could ever bring to such a course. We have proven that the first is not only possible, but practical and pleasurable for both students and instructors. We are now looking forward to accomplishing the second goal, using the top students of our first class as potential instructors. Training will begin this fall.

Throughout this account, I have tried to give a feeling of what we learned, good and bad, in our class. There are a few other recommendations we could give to Hearing first-aid people who want to teach the Deaf of varied reading levels. The point about instructors learning Sign has been made before, but is important enough to be repeated. Instructors should be prepared for surprises, good and bad, and they need to understand some of the dynamics of Deafness. Group teaching and continuous feedback assure that automatic answers won’t be taken for real learning.

Instructors will have to train themselves not to hear the extraneous harsh sounds made by some Deaf people. Some will have very poor speech, which may be incomprehensible as well as unpleasant. Sign is a further help there. Finally, fancy-pants interpreters or instructors are not good for work with low verbal Deaf people. Esophagus sounds scientific, but throat is the word that will be understood, and while myocardial infarction may be mentioned, heart attack is the phrase that has meaning. Signing instructors will know when the interpreter is speaking simply. If and instructor needs to know where to get an interpreter, she might go to the state school for the Deaf, and ask for the name of a solid no-frills Signer.

I have talked about work and problems. I have not talked about the pleasure of communicating with people starving to death for communication, o the joy of helping to heal decades-old wounds made by isolation. In the first-aid manual, it speaks of “promotion of confidence by demonstration of competence,” For the Deaf, that confidence is a prize above rubies.

Joanne Greenberg was born in 1932, in Brooklyn, NY. She was educated at American University and received and honorary Doctorate from Gallaudet University – the world’s only college for the Deaf. She has written 2 books on the subject and has spent decades working with state mental hospitals for appropriate care for the mentally ill Deaf.

Mac’s Reach Exceeded His Grasp

By Jean F. Andrews

It was the end of August, 1974 and I was sitting in a crowded classroom next to 25 other students at Western Maryland College (now McDaniel’s College) in the bottom basement of the campus library. The professor, dressed casually in a light blue guayabera, walked into the classroom, picked up a piece of chalk and wrote down a list of the variables that make up a psychology of deafness.
His lecture style was intense; however, his southern accent relaxed the serious tone of his lecture. I looked down and flipped over my textbook, They Grow In Silence, and noticed the author’s picture. It was the professor standing in front of me. The only other authors I knew were dead, like William Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, W.B. Yeats. I had graduated from an English department the year before and now I was in a graduate program in Deaf Education. I had wanted to be English teacher but it was 1974 and the teaching jobs in regular education were taken up by young men dodging the Viet Nam draft. I had taken an ASL class in my senior year of college and thought that teaching deaf children through sign language would make for an interesting career.

I looked around the room and saw 10 to 12 of the students who were deaf and that a sign language interpreter was translating the professor’s lecture. Mac signed fluently and signed when students asked him questions. He frequently asked the deaf students to share their frustrating and lonely experiences growing up deaf. He talked a lot about his wife, Edith Vernon’s experience growing up deaf as well. Magically, Mac transformed the classroom into a platform for stories about the experiences of deaf people – the most unusual that I had ever heard or read about. And his papers, available to us in the library, on the Role of Deaf Teachers and understanding the Group Minority Dynamics of Deaf Culture were exciting to read. Mac weaved Deaf Rights into the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights movements way before ADA and IDEA made their impact.

That year Mac turned me and several of my classmates into published writers, movie stars and scholars. He published our papers in the American Annals of the Deaf. He cast us in documentaries he was making about deafness. And when we stopped by his office, he had a list of graduate programs at a variety of universities where he encouraged many of us to further our education and to get our Ph.Ds. Many of us in that classroom and in other classes taught by Mac, did just that. We went on to be college professors, researchers, CEOs of technology companies, psychologists, social workers, deaf-blind specialists, forensic specialists, mental health professionals, writers and administrators at schools for the deaf.

Mac’s gentle and consistent support was always only a phone call, a letter or an email away.
“A man’s reach should exceed his grasp,” said the poet, Robert Browning. And Mac’s reach extended beyond his grasp of the time we students spent with him in that crowded classroom 39 years ago.
Mac’s reach extended beyond us college students too. His research, writings, speeches, and advocacy have resulted in better lives for generations of Deaf people.

And we all lost a dear friend and colleague, whose humor, humanity, humility and vitality we will never forget.

Jean F. Andrews is a Reading Specialist and Professor of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University.

I Review the “Little Books” ASL Discs

By BitcoDavid

The 3 stages of difficulty in learning ASL – for me, anyway – are 1) memorizing the vocabulary, 2) learning the grammar and 3) reading other people’s Sign. In other words, it’s more difficult for me to understand other people when they Sign to me, than it is for me to learn how to Sign to them. In order to better facilitate my learning to read Sign, I set out to find some learning aids.

Most videos are just too advanced for a beginner like myself, to make heads or tails of. Sure, you can pick up a word here and there, but for the most part, it’s like watching a foreign film with out the subtitles. You might be able to put together what’s going on, but not by listening to the dialog.

Well, our contributor Jean F. Andrews sent me 3 DVDs called “The Alabama Early Literacy Concept Study.” These are Signed interpretations of a series of children’s books called “The Little Books.” Here, ASL pros are signing bare-bones simple concepts, to little children. Their Signs are exaggerated for ease of understanding in pre-language aged children. There is no text or audio voice over. It’s simply a man or woman Signing, while showing pictures that a child can understand.

This overly exaggerated and extremely slow Sign is exactly what I need. It can serve as an opportunity for me to develop the habit of picking out words from other Signers. Now obviously, these concepts are pretty mundane. Stuff like why you need to get dressed before you can go to school, or how red apples are sweet, while green ones are sour. But that’s the level of Sign that a beginner needs.

In writing this article, I – naturally – looked for a link to the AELCS, but couldn’t find anything. Apparently, the creators of these awesome discs have chosen not to publish or sell them, online. And that’s too bad, because I think these things will make a great resource, not only for pre-language aged Deaf kids, but for anyone trying to learn ASL. I do not own this intellectual property, but if it is at all possible, I will try and post or upload the ISOs of these discs on DeafInPrison.com. Then, anybody who wants them can just download and burn them.

So, today’s Sign Hour was spent watching ASL Storytellers Sign to little kids. Not only did I get some practice reading Sign, I now realize how important it is to always get dressed before you leave for school.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

No Child Left Signing

By BitcoDavid

An auditor for the No Child Left Standing law, was rewarded for his years of hard work, with tickets to see the legendary BSO doing Beethoven‘s Ninth. After a stellar performance of the Maestro’s magnum opus – considered by musicologists the world over, to be the greatest musical work ever written – our auditor was asked his opinion. “Well,” he replied, “I’m glad you asked, because I’ve made some notes.”

1) I noticed the chorus doesn’t do anything but stand there for a full 3 movements. I hope we’re not paying them for that time. They should only be paid for the time they’re actually singing.

2) What’s with this 1st violin, 2nd violin, etc., etc.? One violin should be able to play all the parts. No wonder Beethoven died broke.

3) In fact, the whole string section could have been replaced with a Casio keyboard. You can grab one of them at any Radio Shack for under a C-note.

4) All the audience members should take a computer generated survey test. They’d have to fill in all those little dots. Then we’d know for sure if Beethoven was really a great composer or not.

He rambled on, but I think you get the point.

But what about my point? I’m sure you’re asking yourself that, by now.

Image Credit: BitcoDavid

Image Credit: BitcoDavid

Many of the members of the ASL Meetup group are High school students. They are taking Sign in school, and enjoy the class so much, that they give up their Wednesday evenings to show up in our group and practice their Signing. Most of these kids are Hearies. Sign offered as a language credit in High school – like any other language – serves a far greater purpose than merely teaching Deaf kids how to get along in mainstream schools.

It teaches kids, hearing and Deaf alike, how to learn. It offers a cerebral stimulus that’s far more beneficial than simply regurgitating math problems for a standardized test.  When kids – or adults, for that matter – study for a standardized test, they tend to do something called “brain dumping.” In essence, you spend a few days memorizing answers, which you immediately forget upon completion of the test. A good example of this is Microsoft’s MCSE tests – all of which, I’ve taken. Now, I do know a lot about computers, but very little of it was learned in MCSE classes.

I’ve written before, about the numerous educational values of learning a second language, and those values are all intensified because ASL is a visual language, as opposed to an aural one.

In short, by eliminating ASL programs, to save a few bucks, we are not only doing Deaf kids a disservice, we’re doing all kids one. Learning is a process that involves much more than rote memorization and chundering answers on multiple choice computer forms. I see the looks in the eyes of these young people in our group. They have found something to love, and that’s the first and most essential step in a lifelong career of learning.

Please join DeafInPrison.com in the #Keep ASL In Schools program. To learn more go here, on FaceBook, or here.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

According to the ASL Meetup group…

By BitcoDavid

Even this promo pic looks scary. Image: Schmoes know

Even this promo pic looks scary. Image: Schmoes know

Well, the results are in. According to the overwhelming majority at an unusually large Meetup group, last night – The Conjuring is a really scary movie. Some members told me – in flawless Sign, of course – that it’s even scarier than The Ring. The latter being the Scariest movie I, myself, have ever seen.

Further, it was decided that Black is the best color. It makes you look thin, and it hides things like coffee stains and spilled frozen yogurt.

A certain amount of the evening’s discussion was devoted to Algebra, a heinous torture invented by the Arabs as revenge for the crusades. I learned the Sign for Algebra, and proposed an immediate moratorium on the subject, immediately afterward.

Algebra

Algebra (Photo credit: kollektive Wahrnehmung)

On the FaceBook side, ASL Learners by DeafInPrison.com, is coming along nicely. We’re up to 30 members at this point. In a completely non-scientific poll, we’ve determined that the overwhelming method for most fledglings to learn Sign, is via the Meetups.

If you’re on FaceBook, please sign up for our group.

***And, don’t forget Felix’s petition. We’re just shy of 600 signatures. Felix is still rotting in Tomoka for a crime he didn’t commit. Come on, people. Pam Bondi is champing at the bit, to cut him loose. Let’s help make it easier on her.***

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

DeafInPrison.com Launches ASL Learners FaceBook Group

By BitcoDavid

The sign for "I love you."

The sign for “I love you.”

Interested in learning ASL, but don’t know where to start? Perhaps you’re an ASL teacher or a Terp, and you’d like to share some of your knowledge. Maybe you’re a student of Deaf Studies, and looking for some like-minded people to bond with. Or perhaps you’ve thought about joining an ASL meetup, and you’re looking for one in your area.

Then, boy howdy do we have a FaceBook group for you! ASL Learners by DeafInPrison.com. From stumbling speller to Signing whiz, come join our group and share your experiences with others who are interested in learning, teaching and otherwise promoting this fascinating and fun language.

Through both DeafInPrison.com, and this FaceBook group, we will be working on bringing my particular ASL meetup group, online. This will allow users from all over the world to enter the group through a video-chatting client, and have people to practice with. Marsha Graham, who is currently nursing a broken wing, has been working with me on this idea. I’m hoping this group can help bring this concept to fruition.

In case you missed the link above, here it is – unformatted for your copy and pasting delight.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/183395051831306/183400825164062

Please feel free to join. We’re glad to receive new members.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Dumbing Down Deaf Education

By Jean F. Andrews

Bush signing "No Child Left Standing" Law Image Credit: Weld for Birmingham

Bush signing “No Child Left Standing” Law
Image Credit: Weld for Birmingham

Following the NCLB mandates for achievement testing, linking teacher salaries to student test scores, the National reading Panel, the Common Core Standards and other expert panels–what is next to further dumb down deaf education?

Where are graphic arts? Painting and sculpture? Reader’s theater? The dramatic arts including dancing? What about ASL literature, ASL poetry and ASL storytelling? Quality English children’s literature translated to ASL? Deaf history? Math, science and social studies curriculum that is accessible in two languages—ASL and English?

Instant Mannequin by ADNA

Instant Mannequin by ADNA

Today, we are narrowly focusing our vision in deaf education to fit a non-existent cardboard deaf child who has a high-test score on a standardized test primarily in English. Our tax dollars pour into institutions that continue to deprive and delay deaf children’s early acquisition of both ASL and English. Public education for deaf children is fragmented. Our deaf children are Deaf culturally illiterate. Instead of capitalizing on deaf children’s visual learning strengths we sabotage their success by focusing on what they can’t do—hear like hearing children.

We also obstruct our own desires as teachers for success in the classroom by providing deaf children with a curriculum that does not teach, motivate or provide enjoyment of learning, but instead focuses on teaching to a state test. We fail to motivate children by our knee-jerk response to every “expert panel” and law that comes down the pike. Such misguided educational efforts are “shooting ourselves in the foot.” They simply don’t work. Blaming the “deafness” is an easy answer instead of looking critically at our educational institutions stale with convention and lacking in innovation.

Image Credit: Author Joyce Oroz

Image Credit: Author Joyce Oroz

Seldom, do we ask the critical questions–are these laws and panel recommendations necessary to teaching deaf children how to think, to express themselves in ASL and English, to feel at home in “Deaf” and hearing worlds? Do they motivate deaf children to want to enjoy life long independent learning? Do they motivate deaf students to go back into the Deaf community as leaders to solve the English literacy and other educational challenges that hearing professionals have been unable to solve?

While we are skilled in obtaining grant monies from the government for projects, many project managers fail to include culturally Deaf researchers who may very well assist in solving these challenges of underachievement and illiteracy.

Priorities in deaf education need shifting to include both languages–ASL and English– from early childhood to postsecondary and professional training.  Indeed, we need earlier and continuous bilingual and bicultural education to provide full access to both the languages and cultures across all levels of schooling.

We need to include more culturally Deaf researchers are part of our research teams. To not to include Deaf professionals at all levels of research and training is negligent. Inclusive strategies as these may very well stop the rising tides of the dumbing down of deaf education.

[Editor's Note: We thank Jean for this excellent post. Another area in which we are involved, and one which you can help, is the #Keep ASL in Schools campaign. A video is currently in production, and I have been chosen to handle the editing chores. Click on the link to learn more, and to join the campaign. -- BitcoDavid]

Jean F. Andrews is a Reading Specialist and Professor of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University.

Roaches, Swimming and ASL

By BitcoDavid

People meet and teach each other ASL for free.  Image Credit: BitcoDavid

People meet and teach each other ASL for free.
Image Credit: BitcoDavid

We had a pretty good sized group at last night’s ASL meetup. I brought along a trusty friend – my little Kodak 5X, and had just snapped the 2nd shot of the night, when one of the group members told me that mall-cops don’t like cameras. I was confused, but I told him not to worry because I can outrun those little Segues they ride around on. My mind flashed on my potential mug-shot. Wanted Dead or Alive for shooting pictures at Northshore Mall. I can only hope that they’d cell me up with Felix.

But all this interaction took place in Sign.

The group is so amazingly supportive and helpful. I never feel like I’m slowing down the action, and nobody objects to having to repeat signs over and over for me, as I struggle to understand them. A young, teenaged girl – not a member – saw us signing and came over with her friend, and struggled through telling us that she had aspirations of someday teaching Sign. She was welcomed with open arms, and invited back.

All this and group therapy too. Talk turned to exercise, and I mentioned that I don’t swim. After some surprise amongst the others, I spoke of my lifelong fear of water and bugs. It’s funny, I’m not afraid of much – I mean, I climb into a ring with a bone-breaker once a week, and that’s for fun – but I’m afraid of water above my waist, and bugs. I told one member, Elaine, that I have to tell my wife to kill bugs, because I’m too busy crying like a baby. Spiders are alright, but roaches – and especially things like Yellow Jackets and wasps - and I’m reduced to a bowl of quivering Jello.

Image Credit: BitcoDavid

Image Credit: BitcoDavid

One time, living in a rooming house in Boston’s Back Bay, I saw a roach the size of a loaf of bread. The thing must have been the Queen. Do roaches have Queens? Anyway, this guy was a lobster. What do you think I did? I ran out the door, screaming, and crashed at a friend‘s house for a few days. I remember the trepidation with which I reentered my room, hoping that  this sci-fi creature from a post apocalyptic dystopia had simply chosen to move on. If not, I would have certainly ceded the apartment to him.

So water, bugs – oh, and dentists. Only with dentists it’s more a matter of contempt than fear. Well, now you know.

And all this ribaldry took place in Sign. All that was missing was Marsha Graham. We’re still ironing out the tech required to get her to participate as a virtual member.

I would never have had the good fortune of meeting these people, had I not undertaken to learn ASL.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Adapted Little Books

By Jean F. Andrews

Hack-n-mod.com (obviously, one of my favorite Web sites.)

Hack-n-mod.com (obviously, one of my favorite Web sites.)

[Editor's Note: After some embarrassing tech issues - which you may have caught, but have since been corrected - Jean F. Andrews has graciously filled us in on the Adapted Little Books. This information is also available in the comments section of In a Related Story…, originally posted on 6/19 - BitcoDavid]

Adapted Little Books is a series of emergent reader primers originally created by Dr. Jana Mason of University of Illinois and Dr. Christine McCormick of Eastern Illinois University. The 20 reproducible storybooks can be bought on Amazon.

As part of a research study we had native deaf parents translate the stories into ASL for purpose of distribution at the Alabama School for the Deaf – and their students’ parents. We had teachers provide one story session per week, integrated in their language arts program. Our goal was to give children a fun time enjoying independent reading. We are documenting their growth in letter, word and story abilities. Our research will be published this year. Little books is a program developed Byrd Mason and her colleagues and is supported by more than 25 years of research with hearing children. We adapted Dr Mason’s work with signing deaf children by adding ASL and are pleased with our results.

Jean F. Andrews is a Reading Specialist and Professor of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University.

Picture Glossaries in Jail: Do They Work?

By Jean F. Andrews

"Jail" in Sign Image: LifePrint.com

“Jail” in Sign
Image: LifePrint.com

“A picture is worth a thousand words. ” While this is true most of the time such as in family and nature photography, pictures don’t tell the whole story for the Deaf or ELL (English as a Second Language) offender. To address their language needs, jail and prisons officials are hiring graphic art designers to develop glossy, picture aids to assist the Deaf and ELL inmates. For instance, one jail in the south developed a pamphlet made up of a glossary of 25 terms such as “correctional officer,” “jails,” “pat down search,” “bail bond”—all illustrated with one colored picture for each term, followed by the word presented in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, and Haitian-Creole. These materials I would term “good will” materials as

they show awareness and respect for the offenders’ primary language.

Sign for "Interpret" In ASL, one would add the sign for "person" to signify an interpreter. Image: LifePrint.com

Sign for “Interpret” In ASL, one would add the sign for “person” to signify an interpreter. Image: LifePrint.com

But these pictionaries don’t really provide the access that Deaf and ELL offenders need. During the jail intake procedures and during the offenders’ stay in jail there is a basic need for more in-depth, 2-way communication between the

inmate and the jail officers. Deaf and ELL offenders need qualified interpreters to explain to them the jail inmate handbook as well as the procedures for grievances while in jail. If they are sexually or physically assaulted, they need to know the procedures in getting help.

In short, picture glossaries “look good” to the outsider. But nothing replaces the need for qualified sign language interpreters for Deaf offenders, and other language interpreters for the ELL offenders.

Jean F. Andrews is a Reading Specialist and Professor of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University.

May 2013 at DeafInPrison.com

By BitcoDavid

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

 

Amazing ASL Video Informs About Domestic Abuse

By BitcoDavid

This video, originally posted to YouTube by DeafHope, was featured on Bellamie Harvard’s The Broken Phoenix Blog.

Not only is the message powerful and enlightening – but the Sign is beautiful. Maybe someday, I’ll be able to sign this well.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Broken Sign: Important Announcement from BitcoDavid

By BitcoDavid

I must admit, I learned this the same way a Japanese rock singer learns an American song. Nonetheless, I’m pretty proud of myself.

If you would be interested in doing this, use the contact form below. Please hurry, the window of opportunity is closing fast. Shooting is scheduled for the 1st week in June.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Them Hearies; Who Can Figure ‘Em?

By BitcoDavid

Marsha Graham raised an interesting point, this morning. In a post on her site, she asked why Hearies often leave the TV blaring in the background, while attempting an important business call. I responded as best I could with a comment. The above links will take you to her original post, and my comment. I suggest you check them both out. The whole exchange got me thinking about communication in general, and some of the more glaring social differences between the hearing and the HoH and Deaf communities.

For example, we don’t consider it rude to talk over one another. At a group get together, say a party, we will commonly carry on conversations while others are talking around us. Our brains have learned to filter out the extraneous noise of other people talking. But I’m beginning to realize that for some HoH, that is very difficult and uncomfortable. We also carry on multiple conversations, simply interrupting one another to say hi to a passerby or when speaking in a group. Signing requires the two individuals to be more or less locked in to one another. You need to be looking at one another, and maintaining that level of concentration.

Computers are well aware that simply because I say something, you may not have heard it – or may not have understood my meaning. When you log on to a Web site, the machines engage in a process called handshaking. A computer would never be so ignorant or arrogant as to simply assume the other computer understood the information exactly as it was being sent. I find the Deaf to be much similar in their communications. One needs to establish a visual contact, and then proceed with the conversation – and both can tell when either is not being understood.

We Hearies on the other hand, commonly will speak to the crowd, or toss a sentence fragment over our shoulders, and expect the intended listener to hear and understand. We speak to the backs of each other’s heads. Our world would probably function much more smoothly, if we also did handshaking. “This is what I just said, did you understand?” “Yes, I understood. Go on”

But what I’m finding most interesting is that much of what we do, we are unaware of doing. I hadn’t thought about the TV thing, until Marsha brought it up, but I do it all the

time. I also talk to myself when working. I never realized it until last night. One has to remember to take one’s hat off when signing, because many signs involve touching parts of your head or face. One has to be careful not to cut between two signers. We’ve learned to stop when we see someone taking a picture, so as not to ruin the shot, but we often will walk between two people signing.

At one point, I worked with a sightless individual. He was one of the soundmen at Woodstock. A very capable engineer, and a very dear friend. He was so capable, in fact, that I would often forget that he was born blind. He could see with his hands, almost as well as any sighted person can see with their eyes. In one exchange, I asked him to hand me a certain tool, explaining that it was in the blue toolbox. He simply said, “blue? Moron?” We take so much for granted.

 

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

H.E.A.R.D. Public Meeting Event Next Week

By BitcoDavid

http://www.behearddc.org/

Logo image Courtesy of HEARD

Interns will present on their projects involving deaf possibly wrongfully convicted individuals, deaf prisoners & about lobbying the FCC for telecommunication access equality.

Guest organizations: Council for Court Excellence & the Corrections Information Council

We will be in the Library–>LCB112

There are shuttles to/from NoMa and Union Station Metros to Gallaudet University Campus: http://www.gallaudet.edu/Transportation/Shuttle_Bus_Services/Continuous_Shuttle_Schedule.html

Here’s the link to their FaceBook Event page, and this event will also be listed on our Events Page.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Job Opportunity – NAD Director of Communications

By BitcoDavid

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) seeks a Director of Communications to work at its Silver Spring office and oversee the organization’s communications as well as engage in marketing efforts. The Director will ensure that all communications are timely, compelling, effective, and representative of the organization’s mission, vision, and values.

The Director leads the development and implementation of the NAD communications and brand strategies in order to strengthen the organization’s engagement with its members, stakeholders, and the general public.

The Director is responsible for creating and coordinating written content, videos, graphic design & layout, look & feel, and brand management across all NAD communication channels including print (including the NADmag), eNewsletters, web, social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google+), and all public/media relations.

RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Develop and implement an integrated communications and brand strategy to engage current and future members;
  • Create compelling, persuasive, relevant, and accurate communications content that will increase engagement with the organization’s members and build community support for the NAD;
  • Develop and execute a comprehensive and effective communications strategy in collaboration with the NAD CEO;
  • Cultivate and maintain local, state, and national media contacts for disseminating press releases and leveraging public relations opportunities;
  • Engage in direct communications with state associations and affiliates of the NAD, and coordinate political, legislative, and media efforts within local, regional, and national areas.
  • Create awareness campaigns that utilize innovative social media tools to engage members of the community most effectively;
  • Oversee the creative and editorial direction, development, production and execution of all public communications (website, NADmag, eNewsletters, social media, exhibit booths, marketing and advertising);
  • Script, choreograph, produce, edit, caption, and disseminate videos and vlogs on a regular basis to maximize communications to NAD members and stakeholders, including ASL videos of content on the NAD website;
  • Provide strategic oversight and support for membership and development materials, conferences and campaigns, and fundraising events and activities; and
  • Promote media communications on important legal and political developments.

QUALIFICATIONS & SKILLS

  • Strong commitment to the NAD mission of promoting, protecting, and preserving the civil, human, and linguistic rights of deaf and hard of hearing people;
  • Experience, at least four years preferred, in a communications role (general writing, online writing, or marketing-related writing experience a plus), and prior experience with digital communications;
  • Knowledge and expertise with social media;
  • Experience with content management systems and contact relationship databases;
  • Skilled at developing content including ability to translate policy issues into communications that  resonate with a diverse range of stakeholders;
  • Experience with fast-paced advocacy campaigns;
  • Comprehensive strategic thinking and rapid problem-solving skills to effectively handle crisis communications;
  • Fluent in ASL and in English, with an ability to write and edit quickly and clearly;
  • Familiar with the deaf and hard of hearing community, its culture and heritage;
  • Versed in video production and editing, captioning, and graphic design concepts;
  • Ability to set and adhere to strict deadlines, and comfortable working in a fast-paced, ever-shifting environment;
  • Excellent planning and organizational skills; and
  • Exceptional attention to detail.

OTHER INFORMATION

Salary will be commensurate with candidate’s experience. This position includes generous benefits.

The successful candidate will take the position at the Silver Spring, MD office of the NAD, with flexibility given for transition from out of state.

Deadline for submission is January 9, 2013, with a goal of hiring before the end of January 2013.

Please send your cover letter, resume, list of references, writing samples and any other relevant materials via email to:  jobs@nad.org

Here’s the link to the original listing:

http://www.nad.org/news/2012/12/nad-seeks-director-communications

Now go get ‘em. Good luck – and be sure to mention that you learned of the job through DeafInPrison.com.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

The Role of Early ASL Learning and Linguistic Competence of Deaf Individuals

By Jean F. Andrews

Map of the USA in ASL

Map of the USA in ASL (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

American Sign Language (ASL) is seldom learned early by parents of deaf children when the diagnoses of hearing loss occurs. As a result, few deaf children have strong ASL role models in the home. This has important educational implications. But it also has criticaL repercussions when the deaf child grows into a deaf adult and gets caught in the criminal justice system.
In almost all (with the exception of one), cases where I interviewed deaf suspects or inmates, I have found that they had learned ASL after the age of five. Some even learned it later in junior high or high school. Most all had English reading levels of 4th grade or below.
ASL plays a critical role in a deaf individual’s overall linguistic competence in both ASL and in English. When they learn ASL late, this often delays their ability to learn English. Research has shown strong links between later ASL proficiency and English Literacy.

Lack of ASL proficiency also affects their abilities to effectively work with a sign language interpreter in a police, legal or correctional setting.
Part of the problem is that we have few strong ASL/English bilingual Early Childhood Programs so deaf children are delayed in access to ASL. Another part of the problem is that hearing parents are too busy to learn ASL. They work long hours in jobs where they cannot fit in a sign language class. As a result, their deaf child becomes their sign language teacher and this further delays the deaf child’s acquisition of concepts and language structures because they do not have strong ASL linguistic role models.
One solution to helping parents learn ASL is through online ASL classes. With today’s technology, the video quality is quite good and recent research by Dr. Curt Radford, Professor of Deaf Education at Utah State University has shown that online ASL learning is possible. His recent dissertation completed at Lamar University found that university students in the ASL online class did just as well as ASL students in face to face class.

One creative outcome of Dr. Radford’s research is that he has recently developed an online ASL program for parents. It is reasonably priced and available 24/7 for today’s working parent. www.deafed.org
It may seem like a long stretch to connect early ASL acquisition and signing abilities of deaf adults in the criminal justice system who have difficulty understanding sign language interpreters. But the relationship is there. When audiologists, physicians, and educators deny the deaf children and his parents with information on the benefits of ASL as a language, they are not seeing the big picture. Deaf children need English and ASL as early as possible to achieve linguistic competence in both languages. And Dr. Radford’s parent ASL online course as well as other available online resources that achieve this same goal are good places to start.

Jean F. Andrews is a Reading Specialist and Professor of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University.

 

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