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Dr. Bill's Bio:
William G. Vicars, Ed.D.
Hello ASL Heroes!
I'm Bill Vicars.
I'm president and owner of Lifeprint Institute, a consultation business focusing on technology-enhanced delivery of ASL Instruction, excursion-based instruction (trips to amusement parks), and extended-immersion-based program coordination (intense two-week residencies). Lifeprint also sponsors "ASL University" which is hosted at Lifeprint.com.
I also have a "day job." I am full-time tenured full-professor of American Sign Language and Deaf Studies at California State University, Sacramento.
I am "Deaf/hh." What that
means is I am physically hard-of-hearing and have chosen to live in the Deaf World (e.g. marry
a Deaf woman, use ASL, work in the field of Deaf-Studies, worship at a Deaf
church, devote my time to developing ASL-related resources for others,
Some of my degrees and
certifications (past and/or present) include:
At one point I studied for and passed the Utah Real Estate License exam, but as it turns out I didn't want to spend my life trying to lipread clients from the side while driving them around to look at houses (plus my hearing aid is almost worthless in a car due to road noise.) Oh well -- at least it spurred me on to go back to school and get my doctorate.
Some of my current and/or past experiences and qualifications include:
- Over 25 years experience as a
university-level ASL instructor
For quite a few years I served as Coordinator of the ASL and Deaf Studies Program at California State University, Sacramento where I teach a variety of Deaf Studies courses and topics, (ASL linguistics, Classifiers, Medical Signing, etc.). Don't let the "Coordinator" title impress you. It was just code for "work harder with no extra pay." My colleagues and I tend take turns being coordinator every three years and I was glad to do my part.
For over 25 years now I've enjoyed being married to a wonderful lady named Belinda. We have four terrific orangutans, ... er, kids.
My wife also teaches ASL. She is an awesome teacher by the way. (She probably even a better ASL teacher than I am -- but at least I tell better jokes. Or maybe she is just being polite when she laughs? Hmmm. Gotta think on that.) She was born deaf as a result of the rubella epidemic of the mid 60's. (Whoopsie, gave away her approximate age. Shhhh, act surprised if she ever mentions her age to you.) She attended a day-program for the Deaf in Bakersfield, California. She learned ASL prior to learning how to talk. She has taught college ASL classes and numerous community education ASL courses for many years. She's a wonderful mom, and is rumored to be a great cook. Once in a while I let her beat me in Scrabble. (It is good for her self-esteem.)
People ask us if our children are Deaf.
I tell them my kids are "hard of listening" (heh). [That isn't a technical term folks.] The older three have normal hearing (when they want to). They understand ASL quite well and tend to sign when they want something. The youngest, Sarah, is Deaf/hh. She also has Apert's syndrome. But she is a bundle of joy and energy. (She's a brave, spunky kid I'll tell you.) She attended the Utah State School for the Deaf pre-school day-program. Then she attended a program at a local charter school prior to attending and graduating from a public high school in Sacramento.
We share a home in Sacramento,
with several small furry creatures, (that's pets. The pets are furry, not the kids).
Frequently Asked Questions:
Question: Are you Deaf?
Question: Where did you learn ASL?
I started learning ASL as a youth from a Deaf woman, (Kathy Hadfield
of Brigham City, Utah. She later married Mark Erwin -- so she is now
Kathy Erwin.) Then when I grew older
I learned more as I lived with
Deaf roommates, and hung out with other Deaf people. Here are a few of
the experiences that influenced me:
Question: Are you a member of the "Deaf Community?"
Answer: Almost all of my close friends and associates are tied to the Deaf Community. For most of my life I've lived in the Deaf World. Serving in Deaf organizations, setting up Deaf events, working with Deaf people, teaching ASL, etc.) Belinda and I never expected any of our children to be Deaf, but Sarah (our fourth) was born with a substantial hearing loss due to having Aperts (a rare syndrome). Sarah attended the Utah State School for the Deaf pre-school program.
Question: Are you certified?
I hold a doctorate in Deaf Education / Deaf Studies from an accredited university (Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas). I hold a masters in Deaf Education from Lamar university. I am (or was -- depending on if I have renewed or not) certified by the American Sign Language Teachers Association. I was a member of ASLTA back when they were still S.I.G.N. (Sign Instructors Guidance Network). As far as I have been able to ascertain, I was the first person from Utah to become ASLTA certified. (I'm now in California.) When I was much younger I actually used to be a certified interpreter (I used to put on both hearing aids and crank them up. It doesn't work anymore though--too Deaf now).
Question: What kind of experience do you have teaching ASL?
Teaching ASL is my life's work. I taught ASL at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah for over a decade.
I have also taught ASL classes and/or workshops at the Utah Community Center
for the Deaf, the IRS, Hill Air Force Base, Defense Depot Ogden Utah, Mills Montessori
School, the Newgate Mall, Your Community Connection of Ogden,
Clearfield Community Schools, Davis County School District, Weber County
School District, Ogden City Corporation, The Sign Language Studio, Lifeprint
Institute, Lamar University in Beaumont Texas, The Sign Language
Association, California State University--Sacramento, and dozens of other
places. (Geeze, I must be getting old to have that many experiences.)
[Editor's note: Since I wrote the above, I've added "Guyana,
South America" to the list. By far the hardest work -- and the most fun.]
Question: I read somewhere that you got a degree from ___________ University. I'm thinking about going with them. Do you think that program is worth while? t is certainly more affordable then other programs. Are they fairly well accepted in the professional field?
No. Don't go with ___________.
It seemed like such a good idea at the time to go with ___________ since they were (and I believe still are) approved by the California State Board of
Education. Of the various degrees out there
I (at first) thought they were a good choice.
I went back to school because it became evident to me that to
have "rock solid" credibility I'd have to have a degree from an accredited college.
It is that simple.
Note: These days there are a number of accredited doctoral programs out there now with minimal residency requirements that are certainly worth checking into. Belinda completed an accredited degree in Creative Writing from a distance education program offered by Union Institute (an affiliate of Vermont College). Then she went on to earn an accredited Master of Fine Arts Degree in Creative Writing through a program in Oregon that combined distance education with summer residencies. It worked out very well for her.
You can learn sign language online at American Sign Language University ™