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Interview:  Bill Vicars

Interviewer: Dionna Solomon
Interviewee:  William Vicars, Ed.D.  (Dr. Bill)
Date:  3/8/2011
[via email] 


Dr. Bill,
I checked the websites you had listed and all the questions i had for you weren't included, so here we go (:
1.  When did you find out that you were hearing-impaired?

Short Answer: 2nd Grade.  Before that they thought I was just mentally “slow.”

Long Answer:  Just to let you know, the phrase “hearing-impaired” is a phrase that is unpopular in the “culturally Deaf World.”  It focuses on the “ear” and “impairment.” It also lumps Deaf and hard-of-hearing people together. As time goes on, more and more people are switching from the term “hearing-impaired” to instead using the phrase "Deaf and hard of hearing.”   In the “Hearing World” I am “hard-of-hearing.” In the Deaf World I am either “Deaf” or “Deaf/hard-of-hearing” depending on the situation.  Hearing people think “Deaf” means “someone who can’t hear.”  Deaf people use the word “Deaf” to mean “One of us: Someone who uses sign language, has connections to the Deaf world, knowledge of our culture, and for whom visually-based communication is more accessible than auditory-based communication.” If that seems complex it’s because it is complex. Culture is complex.
Here are two questions to consider:
1. Are you one of us? = Are you Deaf? (capital “D,” attitudes, language, connections…)
2. To what extent are you one of them? = (language, speaking ability, residual hearing…)

In the Deaf World I identify myself as Deaf/hh.  The “Deaf” part of that term is used to establish that I embrace the attitudes, know the language, have various connections to the Deaf World, and my eyes work better for communication than my ears. The “hh” (hard-of-hearing) part of that term is used as a disclaimer to voluntarily waive various rights in the Deaf World and as a “delimiter” to “establish the limits of” my experience as a Deaf person.  Adding “hh” to my introduction is a way of disclosing up front that like most hard-of-hearing folks that I can talk (using my voice) and that I have some “hearing” ability.

2.  Since you've been involved, how has ASL changed over the years?
Response:  I’ve seen a return to many classic elements of the language.  Less initialization. More respect for ASL grammar.

3.  What are some surprising experiences you remember?
Response:  I was surprised to find out that in Georgetown, Guyana most of the local Deaf use a signing dialect that is very similar to American Sign Language.

4.  From your experience, what are the most popular schools to learn ASL?
Gallaudet University, National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology, California State University Northridge, Western Oregon State, and many others.

5.  Which schools have you attended?
Response:  Central Elementary, Mountain View Elementary, Box Elder Junior High, Box Elder High, Utah State University, Weber State University, IKON Technology Center, Lamar University, plus about 50 more.  Seriously I’ve attended a lot of “programs.” For example, I lived on campus at Gallaudet University while taking one of their summer courses.  I attended CSU Northridge for part of a summer as a participant in their training for Liaisons in the American Judicial System.

6.  What schools do you recommend to students learning ASL?
Response:  I recommend whatever school is in your local area. Out of state tuition is very expensive. I suppose if you get a scholarship or have lot of money then you might want to consider WOSC, Ball State, CSUN, or RIT.

7.  Even though ASL is American Sign Language, do other countries use it too?
Response:  ASL is also used in varying degrees in the Philippines, Ghana, Nigeria, Chad, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Zaire, Central African Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, Mauritania, Kenya, Madagascar, Benin, Togo, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and many other places.
(Source:  Grimes, Barbara F. (editor), (1996). "Languages of USA" Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 13th Edition. Institute of Linguistics.)  

8.  How does ASL compare to other spoken languages?
Response:  Your question doesn’t make sense. Drop the word “other.”  ASL compares excellently to spoken languages. Languages have numerous “characteristics.” ASL exhibits all of the characteristics of a language.

9.  What makes ASL different than other countries sign languages?
Response:  Different signs and grammar.

10.  How much of the population is deaf?
Response:  About one out of 1,000 people are deaf.

11.  How popular is ASL in the US?
Response:  Very.  It is the third most widely used language in the U.S.

12.  How has the deaf community grown since you've joined?
Response:  Many more “Hearing people” have learned ASL and gotten involved with the Deaf Community.  There has been a huge explosion in online video blogs (VLOGs).

13.  How do you teach effectively?
Response:  The answer to that question could be the length of a book.  I teach effectively by engaging my students in the learning process. I use technology, visual aids, games, online homework, humor, and various other teaching tools.

14.  How often do you learn new signs?
Response:  I learn a new sign about once a month. Mostly what I learn is “new variations” of signs.

15.  Do you ever have times where you're overwhelmed and need a break from signing?
Response:  Ha!  Do you ever feel overwhelmed and need a break from voicing? Or texting?  I don’t need a break from signing.  Sometimes it is nice to get a break from people, (and students like you, heh), but not from signing.

Response (to your request below) – You might want to check out your local library to see if they have any videos that you could check out.

It's perfectly fine if you can't answer some questions. Also, for my project, we're required to have at least 4 different sources. I have 3 books (1 type of source), websites (second type of source), these interviews (3rd type of source), and i'm still looking for other sources. Since i already have books, websites, and interviews, i was looking for pamphlets, booklets, videos, or anything else that you might have available. I've sent out letters to some ASL companies but haven'trecieved anything back. If you have anything, i would love to recieve some information back at:
[information removed]
You don't have to send anything but it would be greatly appreciated.
Hope to hear back soon,
Dionna Solomon (:

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