Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chapter 2 page 294 - "You asked" Part 3: sign language

As part of my 300th post, I did a "ASK ME ANYTHING" session . . .tonight's question comes from Zaneta at Runnersluck.  Have you read her blog - she's adorable.  Check out the cake creation she made HERE.  How perfect is she??? She's a runner and cake maker/decorator - SWEET!!!!!!

Zaneta asked, "Am I still fluent in sign language?"  Zaneta also asked some other things similar to other people, so I'll address them in the very near future (stay tuned, America . . . and my international friends).

 Well, Z (can I call you that?) - the quick answer is not exactly.  That said, let me back up just a little for everyone who is reading this and saying "What, she knows sign language and how did Zaneta know and I didn't?"  Hate to have jealously rolling through the blogosphere.  Plus, if you all read through this whole post, you might learn some interesting things that probably aren't common knowledge.

Back in 1993 (dang that really sounds like A.LONG.TIME.AGO) - I went to college.  I was forced to learn sign language quickly for reasons I don't really want to expound, but it involved intensive tutoring.  I joined the sign language club which was AWESOME (probably sounds geeky now, but it was super awesome back in the day - can I share a small world story about this sign language club  . . . too bad, here it comes . . . skip ahead 10 years and I was making contact with a sign language professor at a Northern Indiana college- sorry can't remember which small private school it was - and bang, suddenly found myself emailing the old president of the sign language club when I was in it. She had gotten married and had a different last name so I was like, aren't you Angela that lived above the bookstore and gave me my sign name and . . . and she was like "YEAH!"  Cool - small world.

Back to the question at hand.  During college I excelled at sign language and was blessed with the opportunity to be a pre-school teacher at the Indiana School for the Deaf for a year (in case you don't know - it's HUGE for a non-born deaf person to be a teacher at the Deaf school AND to teach pre-school which is reserved for only the best signers because this is where language developement occurs).  I also coached at ISD and led after school activities for the elementary school and middle school. I joined the Deaf club in Indianapolis which is sort of like the VFW or the Elks but it's only for Deaf people (by the way - those of you reading, do you know the difference between "deaf" and "Deaf" - the capital letter in the Deaf refers not only to the inability to hear, but describes a person who identifies with a specific type of culture - the Deaf culture.  Deaf people are strong supporters of residential Deaf schools, use American Sign Language, despise the use of cochlear implants, and generally advocate for Deaf (president) power now (in all aspects of life not just in the Gallaudet revolt of 1988/89). The opposite end of the hearing inability spectrum are deaf people (not capitalized) who are generally integrated public school students, who more often than not learn Signed Exact English or use Cued Speech or may use an interpreter and who generally come from hearing families and relate more to the hearing culture, and support the use of cochlear implants.  These, of course, are generalizations of the two extremes and there are, of course, exceptions.

After about a month after graduating college and moving to Virginia in 1997, I no longer had access to signing with other people.  One of my biggest regrets is that I wasn't able to volunteer at the Deaf School and be involved in the Deaf community while in VA. 

So, like lots of things in life, if you don't use it - you loose it.  I have a running friend who has a deaf son so I get to break out some sign language every now and then when I see him.  I can carry on a conversation with him (he's an elementary school kid - ha, so it's not overly advanced).  I do have to say that words like "cell phone, internet, email, texting - those were not commonly used English words at the time because those things weren't really around much (please don't stop reading my blog and calling me old - I'm 35 . . . soon to be 36), so . . . I actually never learned those signs (pretty sure they didn't have them - though I seem to remember the "e" hand shaking side to side kind of like the sign for "emergency" then the "mail" sign- thumb on lip then put on palm as the sign for e-mail, but it was used VERY rarely  . .  who emailed people back in 1994?  

So, I hope that answers your question and teaches people a few things as well.  Sign language, interpretation, Deaf education, Deaf culture - it's all so close to my heart.  Got questions - fire away!


  1. Sorry this is not related to sign language, but I was 8 years old in 1993.


  2. Wow, that's really cool. I thought about taking a sign language class in college... but then I didn't. :( That would be a helpful skill to have! I hope you find the opportunity to use it more regularly. :)

  3. ok...
    1)AWESOME POST!!! Seriously!! :) I LOVE this post!!
    2) Yes, you can call me Z lol... that's been my nickname for as long as I can remember ;) (has to do with people not know how to prounounce my name, or 1 syllable being easier than 3
    3) Thanks for calling me adorable... you are too kind! lol... I typically get "weird" "strange" "girl with the curly hair"... ;)
    4) love your blog! seriously!! I wish I could get around to comment more often! :)
    5) you could post 10 comments on my blog for all i care... i love reading your comments... highlight of my day!
    6) I'm linking to this post on my blog cuz I love it so much! :) *HUGS* :D

  4. Fascinating! I learned the sign language alphabet after reading about Helen Keller. That's all I know!

  5. I'm a new follower!!! My Mom knew sign language and she use to teach me stuff. I can do "Sunshine On My Shoulders."

  6. I'm an ASL Interpreter in Boston, MA. Saw Z's post so I had to come over and check it out! awesome! :-)

  7. I found your blog through Zaneta and through another friend and love it!!! I grew up with a very close friend that was deaf and it is interesting to grow up learning the difference between deaf and Deaf. I will definitely be following you from now on!