Tag Archives: american sign language

Lost in Cultural Translation: Aesop’s Fables, Fairy Tales and Disney Movies

Every plan has a hole.  Every ship has a leak.  Every internet session is insecure.  These are the new universal writs of living in the new ancient world.  I learned that lesson in an especially troubling manner that forced me, in an instant, to reassess my role in the world as a Midwestern White Man teaching at-risk minority undergraduate students at a major New York City university.

I thought the assignment was simple and universally understood. I’d used a similar teaching plan at other universities with great success; but, in reflection, I realize most of those successes were found in mainstream classrooms with well-schooled students who were taught that learning was a priority in the home.

In my new teaching role in the inner city, many of these students working on a B.A. did not come from the same font of mandatory educational opportunities. They scraped by to earn understanding. They fought for what they grasped while others around them had learning handed to them.

There was a great divide of the mind and cultural experience that I quickly had to bridge or the entire end of the semester was at risk of failing, and the blame would solely be mine as the instructor for not being able to quickly re-adjust and move the field lines to be fair to my students so they could find success.

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Total Failure of the ASL-Only “Switched at Birth” Episode on ABC Family

Last night was supposed to be the premier of the penultimate “American Sign Language Only” episode of ABC Family Channel’s teenage soap opera, “Switched at Birth.”  Janna and I urged our ASL students to watch the episode because we believed the hype and the PR that this would be an episode to remember.  It was not.  The show was a tremendous disappointment and I’ll tell you why.

The one bright spot in the show was this “Deaf Power” banner that struck a long-ago memory in Janna when one of her teachers at the Iowa School for the Deaf said that action was forbidden on campus because it was was rude and disrespectful.  For Janna to see one hand covering an ear and the other hand raised in a fist filled her with both terrible regret at believing a repressive Hearing teacher, and terrific pride that, in the end, the Deaf will own their own place in the world.

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New from Boles Books Writing and Publishing: Hardcore ASL Textbook for Levels 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7

As the New Year springs us forward into perpetuity, Janna and I are delighted to share the news with you that we have finally taken the advice of our Hardcore ASL students and instructors who have wanted to have all seven levels — all the teaching — in a single reference book.  Introducing, from Boles Books Writing and Publishing — Hardcore ASL Textbook for Levels 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 — available right now from Kindle Direct Publishing:

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Preventing the Re-Ghettoization of the Uneducated and Untrained Deaf in America

Educating the Deaf in America is an expensive proposition — especially in a modern mainstream setting with Hearing students and interpreters are required.  Educating the college-capable Deaf is an even more daunting project because of the massive amount of money it takes to educate just a single Deaf student.

The Americans with Disabilities Act is now 22 years old, but that Act still doesn’t begin to really protect the rights of the disabled.  All the Act does is try to level the playing field of fair play by mandating equal access and opportunity but, in many cases, if you want full and verified ADA protection, you have to hire a lawyer and sue.  That’s an expensive proposition for any disabled person to conjure.

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What's in a Deaf Sign Name? Hunter and his Gun!

The last week of August caught a firestorm in the Grand Island, Nebraska Public Schools system as administrators scrambled to recover from banning a three-year-old Deaf child named Hunter Spanjer from using his sign name because his fingers “looked too much like a gun” — and any sort of suggestion of a gun, even as a sign name, is verboten.

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