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"Grab Bag" Various Questions 5:

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 writes:

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 people around.

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 leader, no?).

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 church.

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 this language.



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 writes:

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.

Thank you

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, writes:
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?

Tracy Woodard

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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