The information below is a collection of miscellaneous
questions people have asked me. Sometimes I have time to answer this
type of question, sometimes I don't. I love you all, but there is only
so much time in the day...
In a message dated 9/25/2003 2:00:54 PM Pacific Daylight Time, a student
My name is __________ and I live in W________, NY. I found your e-mail on
your ASL University website while doing some research. I am in the process
of learning ASL so I can interpret our church service. I starting signing
about 2 years ago with BSE and am trying to convert over to ASL. Here is my
question.... my worship leader has seen me sign to worship and he approached
me about signing in front of the church (just for worship right now). I feel
that I am supposed to go down this path, but there is some concern that I
might offend the deaf community since I am using sign language when we do
not have anyone deaf in our assemble yet. Can you give me your feel on this
situation? I have been trying to find chats and discussion groups and for
some reason I have not gotten very far. I really would like to go forth and
do this.. I love signing and I want to communicate God's love, but I do not
want to offend anyone while I am trying to do something from my heart.
I know that this is not a typical question for you, but if you could help me
out at all it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading this and I
hope to hear from you soon.
[name on file]
Dear [name on file],
If I understand you correctly, you are asking me if Deaf people will be
offended if you sign at the front of your church when there are no Deaf
Well, I reckon if they are not around to be offended then they certainly
won't be offended. Ah, but I know that you are worried what will happen if
"word gets back" to the Deaf community that there is some woman waving her
arms in the air while standing in front of a bunch of Hearing people.
Here is my input on that.
Your worship leader has approached you regarding this issue. Now then, if he
is inspired of God to do that, then that must be what God wants you to do.
(And if he is not inspired of God then you should find another worship
So then, if a thousand Deaf people don't want you to do it and God wants you
to do it, what do you think you should do?
Will you offend some Deaf people? Maybe. But I don't think you'll offend
anyone that wouldn't just as easily be offended by almost anything else in
his life. While I can't speak for everyone, I think most of us Deaf and Hard
of Hearing people would be glad to know that yet another door is
opened to us. (Your church's services.)
If someone asks you why you are doing it, I guess you could tell them that
it is easier to get horses to come to the watering trough if there is water
in the trough.
By signing each Sunday, you will be making yourself more openly visible to
visitors and members. Later when they meet a deaf person they will then be
able to let them know: there is a lady that interprets the sermons at our
Just keep the attitude of being a student. AND never lose that attitude,
even when you are a teacher. I have a Ph.D. and yet, I'm still a student of
Thank you for your comical but eye opening reply. My husband highlighted the
line "So then, if a thousand Deaf people don't want you to do it and God
wants you to do it, what do you think you should do?" And agreed with you. I
guess that I am so worried because I have not had the opportunity to hang
out with the deaf community and I don't want to step on any toes. And being
that I am still in the beginning stage I don't want to mess up. You have
made me feel more at ease and I thank you for your encouragement.
[name on file]
In a message dated 9/26/2003 10:33:27 AM Pacific Daylight Time, Dee
Dear Dr. Vicars,
I am homeschooling my 3 daughters 5, 7, and 9. We are interested in learning
ASL as our "foreign language".
I have looked at your site, very impressive and helpful by the way, and am
wondering if it is feasible for me to teach my daughters ASL myself. None of
us are deaf, but I would like them, and me, to be on our way to being fluent
in sign language.
I have a contact that is close to being certified here that will maybe be
able to teach our homeschool association for a 6 week session, once a week.
I would like to go beyond this but don't really know how.
We live in a very rural area and I need to research more what is available
here, but I know it is not like in a city where lots of things are available
to the community.
I would appreciate your input.
Dee and Kathy
Dee and Kathy,
Yes, you can teach your kids yourself. Will you likely make some errors
along the way? Yah. Oh well. You live in the sticks and can't make it to the
city, -- you've got an excuse.
Will you get "fluent" on your own? No. Not going to happen. Fluency comes
from years of interacting with the Deaf Community.
But any journey starts with a single step right?
You can use my website to get started. You can also make occasional trips to
the city to borrow ASL videos from the library. (Or have your bookmobile get
them for you.)
In a message dated 10/31/2010 8:31:33 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time,
Dear Dr. Vicars,
I have been using your Lifeprint site to supplement my studies as I
attempt to learn ASL. As a truly "Right-Brain" individual (I am a
scientist), my ability to learn a second language is through rote
memorization and association. What is giving me great pains is
learning grammar and syntax. I have searched the Internet for
information and I have read that information, but as a Hearing
individual, I continue to think English and not ASL. Can you suggest
a novel or a text book written in ASL to help "immerse" my mind more
thoroughly than the handful of snippets my text book offers?
I recommend you get: Intermediate conversational sign language: By
Willard J. Madsen.
I also recommend you get Linguistics of American Sign Language: an
introduction By Clayton Valli, Ceil Lucas.
Neither of which are "novels" but they will do quite a bit to help
you develop an understanding of ASL grammar.
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