What do you think of Signing Saturday?
Would you be interested in reading about American Sign Language?
Cool? Lame? Hawsum? Interesting? Boring?
What if I told you to say it in your head like an announcer for Monster Trucks? Like… “signing Signing SIGNING saturday Saturday SATURDAY!!!”
How about I just dive right in, and you let me know? Okfine.
The best place to dive into learning American Sign Language is where learning ANY language (Yes, it’s a language; that’s another lesson for another day.) and that would be your ABCs and 123s!
Grab a signing buddy to learn with you. This helps you to learn a lot easier. Plus, you each have a personal cheering section to encourage you; bonus plan, baby!
This is going to get a little graphic intense so I’m gonna cut here for the feed reader peoples. Click over for some pages I made you with the ABCs and 123s on them, some flashcards, and a little bit about Deaf culture and probably waaay more than you really wanted to know about me and my hearing loss.
I’ve made a two page PDF you can download rot cheer: ASL ABCs & 123s and it looks like this…
And then (aaaand dennnnnnnnn!) this is a PDF for flashcards for learning your ABCs and 123s! The first page looks like this…
Pretty shmancy fancy, huh?! Download it here: ASL ABCs & 123s Flashcards and the important thing is to print it double sided so you end up with the sign on one side and the answer on the other. Then you can use the flash cards with your signing buddy either way; one holding up sign side and other naming the sign, or one holding up the word side and other doing the sign. So you’re going to have to print this double sided. If your printer only does one side at a time, load only one page at a time so it doesn’t zip through them all one sided. Put one blank page in, let it print. Here’s the tricky part: when you flip the paper to the other side, flip it like you’re turning a book page, NOT like you’re turning a calendar page. So, load a blank page, print, flip (like a book not a calendar!), load, print; do this until you have printed four double-sided pages. Next, cut the pages. Here’s page one with cyan colored cut lines on it.
So cut the page in half, in half again, etc. until you’ve got 16 flash cards from one page. Repeat for other three pages. You’ll end up with 64 flash cards total.
Now, I’ve just gazed into my crystal ball and I see you and your signing buddy cutting out your flash cards and sitting opposite each other and starting. I see you’re sooo excited because this is sooo groovy… until… one of the signs trips you up. Where does the thumb go? Over or under the fingers? Huh? Wait, that’s not it.
I see one of you say to the other, “Gosh, these drawings aren’t the same as seeing someone show us the signs. I wish Dory was here to show us so we could make sure we’re doing it right.”
Dah duh duh DAAAHHHHHH!
Okfine. What’s next? Ah, yes.
Another essential part of learning ASL is becoming aware of Deaf people and Deaf culture.
You’ll see me use deaf (little d) and Deaf (big d). The difference is when I use “deaf,” I’m referring to the only the physical hearing loss; when I use “Deaf,” I’m referring to either identifying with or the culture in the Deaf community.
Basic Definition of Big D and Small d d/Deaf: Generally, the “small d” deaf do not associate with other members of the deaf community, strive to identify themselves with hearing people, and regard their hearing loss solely in medical terms. “Big D” Deaf people identify themselves as culturally deaf, and have a strong deaf identity. The big D deaf tend to have attended schools/programs for the deaf, while the small d tend to have been mainstreamed and/or never attended a school for the deaf. When writing about deafness, many writers will use a capital D when referring to aspects of deaf culture, and a lower case d when speaking solely about the hearing loss, and some just simply use d/Deaf. –About.com http://deafness.about.com/cs/culturefeatures1/a/bigdorsmalld.htm
I have a degenerative nerve disease in my ears which gradually erodes my hearing until I have no more. I have almost no midtones left but still have some hearing in the treble and bass range. I may be profoundly deaf by the time I’m 50 or 60. I’m learning sign and teaching my friends and family in the hopes that by the time I am Deaf, I will be completely fluent in ASL. I started learning ASL at my local community college in Fall ’06. I started hanging out with and making friends in the Deaf community here in Cedar Rapids around January ’07. I have about 40% hearing left, I’m guessing, so I’m not deaf, but I’m also not hearing, which can be a real pain in the ass sometimes. I find myself straddling the fence between a Hearing world and a Deaf world. I often wish that some morning I’ll wake up either completely healed or completely deaf. I’ve had about enough of living in limbo. Some days are good and I feel like I didn’t miss much; Some days are bad and I doubt myself. Sometimes I’m afraid that when they test my hearing for the new aids, the audiologist is going to look up at me with a pained expression on her face and say, “I’m sorry, there must have been some kind of mistake. You’re not hard of hearing. You’re incredibly stupid. Your whole life long your inability to comprehend large chunks of conversation and instruction is due to the fact that you have some sort of brain damage or mental retardation. Either that or your ADD is so severe, you can’t focus on language being directed at you for any longer than 1.5 seconds. Actually, I’m pretty sure that it’s simply that you are heinously stupid. Sorry, we can’t help you with that.” I am seriously not kidding.
I can identify with Hearing folks because at first glance, I “fit” there; people normally do not know how bad my hearing loss is until I tell them. I still speak pretty clearly and can hear just enough to get the gist of conversations and nod and smile at the right time.
But I also identify with the Deaf folks because I understand the frustration of not understanding a huge part what’s going on in my world. For example, I can’t fully comprehend a conversation. I do pretty well one-on-one, but put me in a conversation with more than a couple participants, I just can’t follow it. Not having accommodations when you know you could; like when videos that people share on blog posts are usually not CC and I can’t understand what’s said, but it’s so easy to get them on in the first place. Imagine someone has turned off your sense of hearing. Consider every day activities without it; going to the store, restaurant, McD’s drive-thru, the bank, buying a car. What do you do? And that’s just the tip of the iceburg.
Getting employment and staying employed is a huge frustration for me. When my hearing got to a certain point of loss, I knew that I was going to have to switch careers. Previously, I had taken inbound customer service calls at MCI and McLeodUSA for six years. When I got laid off, I knew I was going to have to find something that didn’t require a lot of phone usage, and that would be something that I could do more on my own, as opposed to interacting in more of a team environment that would require a lot of meetings and conferencing.
“But, Dory,” you say “The ADA ensures that Deaf folks can be employed at any job except an airplane pilot!” Ah, no. Seriously? In real life? Say you’re an employer, and you are considering hiring someone. You find out that they will need an interpreter at the tune of about $50/hour. What do you do? Sure, they’re an excellent candidate; but this next candidate looks just about as good and isn’t going to cost you an extra $50/hour.
“But Dory, they can’t do that! That’s discrimination!” you cry indignantly.
And I say to you, “No, honey, that’s life.”
Ok, next, how about a little thing about Deaf folks you might not have thought of before. Not all Deaf folks are completely deaf and cannot hear anything. There are degrees of deafness just like there are degrees of blindness. Some are deaf or Deaf. Some are Harding of Hearing, or shortened, HoH. As a person with hearing loss, the definition is less about the measurement of what you can or can’t hear; it’s about which you identify yourself more with, Hearing people or Deaf people. Some use their voice, and some do not. Some had hearing loss before they learned to speak (this is called “pre-lingually”) and have a “deaf accent” and some had hearing loss happen after they learned to speak (“post-lingually”) and they speak more clearly. Some have the “deaf accent” even though their hearing loss happened later in life from an accident or disease, and are profoundly deaf so they cannot hear themselves at all. Some have the “deaf accent,” use ASL to communicate, but they still have enough hearing to enjoy listening to an iPod. You can’t assume since someone has earbuds in that they can’t be deaf.
Has your head exploded yet? That was an awful lot of information on deaf/Deaf/HoH folks, but it’s just a drop in the ocean, kids.
Alright, that will conclude the pilot episode of “Signing Saturday.” It’s up to you whether the contract is extended another few episodes, or if it’s a dud and it should be canceled. Let me know.
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Want to know more signs but you can’t wait for the next episode? This is my favorite ASL site.
Want more about Deaf culture? Google Deaf Culture.
Rip it, roll it, and punch it, dude. Word. T’yaw mutha. In sign, of course.