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Hearing People Taking Advantage of Deaf Resources:  "An example."


Dear _______,  [name removed to protect his privacy]

I will be the first to declare that my own work is full of typos, oopsies, and "issues."  I'm not perfect and have adopted a philosophy of "It is better to publish something that is sufficiently decent but not perfect -- than to not publish it at all." 

So keep in mind that I am a cheerleader for you here foremost and I provide the following information simply for feedback and advice.

I am convinced that you "seriously" need a Deaf editor after having taken another look at your sample page.  From just that one page you submitted as a sample of your work -- my suggested edits list has increased considerably:

1. Graphic showing a 9 next to the "EIGHT" entry.

2. (wrong extension, should be .com)

3. TWELVE: In the text the beginning handshape is incorrectly listed as "an index finger"

4. TWELVE: One of the graphics inaccurately shows the initial handshape as being a cocked index finger. 

5. Typo: An extra period under "My eBook links to their videos.."

6. Philosophy: The term "foreign language" doesn't appear anywhere on the front page of While it is true that the term is used (once) in my "About" page -- the context is "entrance and exit requirements" -- not that ASL is a "foreign language."  Sure, I did write the words "...intended to fulfill college or high school foreign language entrance and exit requirements" but I recommend NOT using the phrase "wanting to pursue ASL as a foreign language..."  My point is simply that the term "foreign language" is an anachronism which has largely been replaced (or is slated for replacement) in higher education by the term "modern languages," (some specific) language, or just "language."  Sure, the older term appears a couple times here and there on my site but the term is vestigial and not something you want to take out of context nor something on which you would want to shine a spotlight.  Instead perhaps something along the lines of: "Dr. Bill Vicars also has a large inventory of signs on his website,, as well as free ASL lessons and instructional videos."  Also, in any descriptions of my work I wouldn't make it look as if ASLUniversity is separate from  At some point that might happen but as of "right now" ASLUniversity is a mirror of Lifeprint. They are the exact same material.

7. The small graphic of the "10" handshape is oriented sideways.  The thumb should be up, not pointing to the right.  Sure, I get it that the orientation varies throughout the sign but that graphic is not representational of any of the orientations of the TEN sign.

Again, I'm sure if someone decided to go over to my site and look for problems they would certainly find them.  My concern though is that on the "one" sample page you have forwarded I'm seeing several serious errors regarding description of signing parameters. 

Please do not get defensive here.  I "did" read the part about you having [many] years of experience in Deaf Education.  I'm just saying that you making a half dozen or errors on a sample page raises a lot of red flags in my mind.  

If you were Deaf and depended on ASL as your main form of communication such mistakes would glare out at you.  If your artist were Deaf she would not be making or allowing such mistakes (or such mistakes would be comparatively very rare).  

While I'm sure your intentions are good and that you have spent a lifetime serving other people (thank you) -- I feel (for your sake and for that of the Community) that it is important for me to point out that if you publish a book full of mistakes (due to being a Hearing person -- or even due to simple carelessness) without having fully vetted it with and through a Deaf panel or a Deaf editor -- you will risk becoming a target of Deaf activism and will indeed have become guilty of "taking advantage of" the Deaf community.  Publishing a "text" (rather than an opinion piece) is a form of declaring that one is an "expert" on a subject."  

That "declaration" engenders trust which then becomes the basis for the reader to exchange time and money for your product.   Taking people's money (and taking up their time) while giving them a product full of mistakes and inaccuracies (which cloud and muddy the clarity of communication in the Deaf community) is ...well...I'm not going to finish that thought since I can't think of a nice way to say it -- and you seem like such a nice person who is simply trying to use his time in a productive manner to benefit society.

Where to go from here?  

I recommend you hire a Deaf editor or some other qualified Deaf reviewer.  If you can't afford to pay the person then consider delaying publication until you "can" afford it.  Or put your text online for free as a "draft" and request feedback or volunteers to help identify the errors needing correction.  Additionally, if you as a Hearing person "do" earn money on it, it would be good Public Relations to give a portion of any profit to the World Federation of the Deaf and/or the National Association of the Deaf.

Again, please don't misunderstand the tone of my email.  I figure you'd rather hear such advice from me than end up getting hundreds of negative reviews on Amazon and blacklisted in the Deaf Community.
The semester at the local university (my day job) is starting next week and thus my "free" advice and time is going to need to be directed to my local students for a while -- so please don't misunderstand the brevity of any future emails on my part.  I truly do wish you well.

Dr. Bill
William G. Vicars, Ed.D.
Professor of American Sign Language





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