Lifeprint Lesson 25 Homework

Dear Bill,


I am currently a student at Northwestern Connecticut Community College in Winsted, Connecticut going for my Deaf Studies Major.  I recently learned, much to my dismay, that in order to become an interpreter you now have to hold a Bachelors Degree.  Is this correct?  Is it nationwide?


I am an older student, 52 years of age, (but a YOUNG 52).  I worked for almost 30 years in the medical field.  My first 7 years I worked as an office manager, and the remaining 23 years I worked as an operating room surgical technician.  If this new law is in fact true, that means I'll be in school for at least 8 years, since I can only manage 3 classes a semester.  Who will want to hire a 60 year old interpreter?


I also have a question that I hope you can answer.  I will be moving to the Atlanta, Georgia area soon and I cannot find a college who offers the Deaf Studies major.  Would you happen to know of one?


I am doing very well in school, making the Dean's List my first semester and doing VERY well in my ASL classes.  I need your help and hope you can guide me along.




Joan Booth


I did some research on this for you and came up with the following information posted at 

"Degree Requirements Passed at 2003 Conference. Degrees Necessary Beginning in 2008 for Performance Testing Applicants

At the 2003 RID Conference in Chicago, the membership passed a motion which requires a degree in order to stand for future performance interview tests. It is important to note that these requirements are not immediate. In 2008, applicants who are hearing will be required to have a minimum of an associate�s degree in order to be considered a candidate for certification. This means that they can take written or knowledge tests without a degree, but must have the degree in order to apply for the interview and performance sections of any test.

In 2012, applicants who are hearing will be required to have a minimum of a bachelor�s degree in order to be considered a candidate for certification while applicants who are deaf will be required to have a minimum of an associate�s degree.

In 2016, applicants who are deaf will be required to have a minimum of a bachelor�s degree.

Additionally, there will be exceptions to the requirement. Those exceptions will be formulated and publicized no later than 2006.

The following is the text of the motion as approved at conference:

C 2003.05

RID adopt and publicize the following schedule for when all test candidates must have a degree from an accredited institution to stand for any RID certificate:

Effective June 30, 2008, candidates for RID certification must have a minimum of an associate�s degree. Effective June 30, 2012, Deaf candidates must have a minimum of an associate�s degree.

Effective June 30, 2012, candidates for RID certification must have a minimum of a bachelor�s degree. Effective June 30, 2016, Deaf candidates must have a minimum of a bachelor�s degree.

By June 30, 2006, the Certification Council shall establish equivalent alternative criteria allowable in lieu of the educational requirements such as one or more of the following:

Life experience, years of professional experience, years of education (credit hours) not totaling a formal degree.

National Council on Interpreting (In response to motion L from the 2001 conference.)"




Does this mean you will "have to" have a degree?  No.  it simply means that if you want to apply for RID certification after June 30 2008 you will need a degree.
But RID isn't the only game in town.  Some states don't require interpreters to be certified. Many states offer their own certification. 
I suggest you check with your state's "Division of Occupational Licensing" to find out what certification requirements may apply to you.
Best wishes. Take care,
Dr. Bill Vicars


In a message dated 10/14/2004 9:27:31 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:



In the sign under lesson 23 for pass, would that sign only be used as in "pass a test", or would it also be used for "hall pass". Would "hall pass" use a sign like ticket or license, etc.?





"Pass a test" would use the general sign "PASS."

The safest method to indicate "hall pass"would be to spell it.

If you needed to introduce it as a topic of discussion hall pass would use "rectangle" upon first reference and then later in context you might use context of "YOU HAVE PERMISSION?" which would be understood to mean "Do you have a permit" and/or "Do you have permission?"

"CAN OUT" is another possibility for this concept.

I personally wouldn't sign "WAY-(hall) PASS" for "hall pass" but I wouldn't roll my eyes if I saw someone doing it.


In a message dated 10/14/2004 10:43:33 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Have you ever seen the word "teach" as a reflective verb? I hadn't seen that before the other day when one of the interpreters used it at school.

Yes.  Teach is a "directional" verb capable of reflecting (indicating) the subject and object in a sentence.

In a message dated 10/14/2004 12:08:50 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Hi there Bill,

I just wanted to write you a little note to give you a sense of what you have given to me (I'll try to keep it short, but in my mind its a long story)...about a year ago I decided it was time to FINALLY learn ASL, something I had been interested in since, well, really since I was old enough to express interest in things! In my search for a tutor I met one of the most wonderful people I have ever known. We took an active interest in one another from the get-go and have had the most loving relationship imaginable since. I feel that I owe some of the success of this relationship to you, personally.

Chris (my boyfriend) is not an ASL tutor at all, he is one of Microsoft's growing population of deaf software engineers. Despite this, I recruited him as my tutor and boyfriend. ;) My friends were convinced I had gone crazy, I couldn't even fingerspell and he doesn't speak, how would this work?! I dove headlong into learning to sign via your website (amidst two jobs and being a full-time undergrad) and found myself inspired with every new lesson.

Your website is incredible, I feel as if I am being taught by a personal friend. I appreciate so much being able to read about your life, your family, your personal experiences. You are obviously very passionate about what you do and that passion is transferred to your students, whether you know they even exist or not!

After a year, I have learned enough sign language to interpret semi-effectively, and definitely enough to sustain a relationship, I have fallen deeply and madly in love with someone with whom a traditional view would not see a relationship as possible, I have become acquainted with Chris' close circle of Deaf friends who aide in my education and whose friendship I hope to cultivate, I have changed my plans for the future to include sign language and learning about Deaf culture in a lead role. These are just a few of the things that sign language, and that your website, have provided me. Thank you Bill, for sharing your knowledge and passion with us fellow autodidacts out there.

If there is a wedding somewhere down the road, I hope you would accept an invitation. :D

Also, let me know if you ever teach a class in Seattle!
All the best to you and your family.

Molly _____


Hey! That's terrific!  I'm thrilled to hear my efforts have been of benefit to you. Thank you for taking the time to share your story with me.

Best wishes for your future success.




In a message dated 10/19/2004 1:27:46 PM Pacific Daylight Time, Tulipbabie90 writes:


My name is Becca. I'm going deaf and am really hating it I don't know what to do. I am only in high school so I can't find anything that wont be too hard to learn. Do you teach high- schoolers? Please e-mail me back soon. Thank-you.




**  Start by reading the online version of the discussion pages of my book:

**Next, contact the division of "Rehabilitation Services" for your state (sometimes called "Vocational Rehabilitation).  Have them evaluate your hearing and "qualify" you for their services.  Then ask them to pay for ASL classes in your area. If you are poor, ask them to pay for your hearing aids.  When you graduate high school ask the Division of Rehabilitation Services to send you to college and pay your tuition. 


Note:  These are not "handouts." If you are going deaf you should equip yourself as soon as possible with the means and ability to become a productive citizen.  That is the purpose of Vocational Rehab and it is how I started out many years ago.  Now I hold advanced degrees and certifications and I have a full-time job plus run my own business and help take care of my family (in partnership with my excellent wife).  It all started with taking that first step and deciding I'm going to plant the seeds that are available to me.

**On your next IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting (with your school's administrators/teacher/counselor/parents), explain to them that you are going deaf (the school should know this already) and that you want it in your IEP that you may request special provisions for certain types of activities and testing.  For example, if the school requires a "music class" this requirement should be waived for you and some other course substituted.


** For social purposes you are going to want to pick some "deaf groups" and start figuring out which ones might be a good fit for you.  Maybe none of them will be your "thing" but it is worth looking.


** Check with your doctor and consider taking a vitamin E supplement.  I've just seen some recent studies that indicate a correlation between hearing retention and Vitamin E.  Also, exercise more.  Get your heart pumping daily.  This will help produce endorphins which will cause you to feel good and it will also help you get sufficient blood circulation to your ears which may help retain your hearing.


** Go to the Library and get a book about someone who has it "really bad."  We often feel depressed when we focus on our lack and other people's excess.  Instead get a book like "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl.


**  You may go through a period of isolation or resentment.  Instead of resenting what is happening to you try to focus on what you still have.  Make lists of your blessings and read them.  Go to well lit areas (like a supermarket or the "lighting aisle" of a hardware store) when you feel depressed.  Spend 15 minutes there.  The light will help lift your mood.



Now, you asked if I teach High School students.

My website is free for self use.  Some high school students (mostly home schoolers) do register and pay for the course so that I'll evaluate their videos and provide them documentation.  Registration is expensive and not what I'd recommend for you.  Instead I suggest you "self-study."  If money isn't a problem you might want to get the CDs that correspond to the website.  If money is tight you might want to instead consider a visit to your local Library.  Most larger libraries have quite a few ASL books.  Some have ASL Videos or other materials for check out.


Best wishes to you in your new life as a Deaf person.

This is not a cancellation of your "life's trip." You are simply going to a different destination than you originally planned.


 Dr. Bill Vicars


In a message dated 9/25/2004 3:26:40 PM Pacific Daylight Time, ASLteacherSDA writes:

Hi Bill,

Allow me to introduce myself; my name is Sandra Amundsen.  I have been teaching ASL at different places for the last 7 years in Fremont, Cupertino, and San Jose, California.  Recently, I have set up a small business called
"Sandra's ASL Services."  I provide private ASL tutoring, ASL noncredit classes, ASL workshops, etc.  Some of my former students would like to earn CEUs....I was wondering if you could give me some information on how to set up CEUs for my workshop and class.
The last workshop I had was sponsored by RID and CEUs were offered, but only members of RID can earn CEUs.  I have been trying to find resources on CEUs, but unable to do so.
Do you have any suggestions?
Thanks in advance,
PS My students love your

Hi Sandra,

CEUs are valid based on who accepts them.

You can give out your own CEUs.

Feel free to use the Lifeprint Extended Transcript system:

It is the careful documentation of participation and your signature on the bottom of the form that gives it validity.

Dr. Vicars


<<In a message dated 9/20/2004 5:41:13 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:
Dear Bill,

Thanks so much for the great newsletter. I really enjoy receiving it and learn a lot from it. I do have some concerns about teaching ASL. I recently took a job in a high school. In the past, I have taken ASL 1 through 6 and interpreting 1 and 2 as well as various workshops concerning ASL grammar. I have been a teacher for 23 years, not in ASL though. I thought that I was proficient enough to teach ASL 1,2,3. I use several books including the green book which is my favorite. The teacher from the year before chose a different curriculum, ABC course in Sign Language. I also like to use Signing Naturally although it is hard to get the school district to buy 150 exercise books which are disposable.

This is my problem. There is a Deaf education program in my school There are several interpreters there who think that my signing skills are lousy although my signs are just like yours. They think that I should be teaching how they interpret which is quite a bit different. I am teaching ASL sentence structure of course, but if my signs are different, they say that I am teaching the students the wrong way. It is really hard since I have the pictures in the book and I can imagine if I sign the word "worry" as the interpreters want me to sign it, the students would say, "That doesn't look anything like the picture. My signs look exactly like your word, "worry" but I am still criticized for not signing the same way as the interpreters.

Can you help? There is a shortage of ASL teachers in this area and I am doing my best to stay current with the latest words and mingling with the Deaf etc. but it doesn't seem to be enough. I feel like I should not do this job with so much criticism, but I really enjoy signing and love the school.

Very Sincerely,

Helena Nagle>>

Hello Helena,

Take a deep breath and smile.

No two deaf people sign alike.

In the hearing world TV and radio constantly expose hearing people to language samples from other hearing people coast to coast. Broadcast media is the great equalizer of spoken English. Hearing people in different regions of the country speak with regional dialects and accents, but in general their language is relatively consistent.

In the Deaf world there is much less regional interchange. As time goes on, ASL is also becoming more standardized due to video recording, webcasting, and related technology. Even though there has been much progress, the fact remains, ASL is notoriously diverse.

I have a friend. He is a trained radio announcer. As such he has spent years eliminating from his speech any trace of accent. He has learned to speak in a way that will cause the least amount of people possible to take note of his speech. You see, his job is to get people to pay attention to his message, not his voice.

But the fact remains that if he were to travel to certain neighborhoods in New York, or �down South� there are people who would feel justified in criticizing the way he talks.

Now, such criticism wouldn�t bother him. He would merely be amused because he knows deep down that his speech is impeccable. He has self-confidence.

Now, it seems to me that you have spent a considerable amount of time studying ASL. You�ve taken classes, attended workshops, and gone to Deaf events.

Such being the case I think it is a fairly safe bet that your signing skills�while not perfect�are not the real issue here.

The real issue is �public relations.�

Now, I could write at great length on this topic, but it is late and I�ve got early morning meetings, so I�m simply going to brainstorm a bit, share an experience where I was criticized and how I responded, and then encourage you to think in terms of developing your own public relations program.

You might want to:

*Carry around a little notepad. Then every time a critical person starts ragging on you, whip out your notepad as if you were a reporter and take notes. Thank him for his time and tell him how glad you are that he shared his opinion with you.

* Purchase or borrow one of those digital cameras that can record 60 seconds of video. Record the �criticizer�s version� of the sign and thank him for his time.

* Start a �sign collection.� Borrow ten different ASL books from the library and find 4 different versions of the sign the criticizer is using. Then when he says �You should do it this way,� you can smile and say, �Yeah�that�s a great way, Dr. so and so does it that way too! Dr. Yadda does it this other way, and Dr.�s Badda Bing and Badda Bum do it this third way. I personally like Dr. Yadda�s method because it seems to be more consistent with what Dr. Vicars uses on his website. You know, there is so much variation out there, I try to protect my students by choosing one solid set of signs and using them for tests and such, but I always try to show them variations as time allows. I�ll make sure and show them YOUR variation from now on. Thanks for your suggestion!�

An associate emailed me one day. In her very sweet, humble way, she criticized my use of a certain sign. She teaches deaf youth. Apparently in their class they had been browsing my website and came across one of the practice quizzes. The quiz they found happened to have included a variation of the sign for �single.� As you may know, that concept can be signed quite a few different ways. A popular method for signing single uses an �index finger� handshape placed first on one side of the chin then the other.

This sign is sometimes initialized with an �S.� Initialization simply the process of using the first letter of the written form of a concept as the hanshape for the signed form of that concept.

The initialized form of �single� is not used often by deaf people but it is used to the extent that if you hang out in the deaf community long enough you will certainly see it. Some people might consider it �Signed English,� but I just consider it to be an initialized ASL sign that is used more in some areas of the country than others. Since I want my students to become familiar with a wide variety of sign forms I include a reasonable number of variations in my lessons and occasionally on my tests.

Below, for your amusement, I�m going to post my associate�s email and my response.

Take care.


A friend interested in signing writes:

<<OH....single...with an "s" and not the first finger on each side of the
mouth. I see....that was a very English type sign. I'm surprised you signed it that way. Hmm. Interesting. Is that how everyone is signing it now in ASL? Should I change that? I don't want to be left out of the loop. :)
Smile!! I showed my kids your signs and they thought it was so neat to be able to pull that up on the web. They also thought it was neat that I knew you. My kids are 6-8th grade and vary in ability levels from 1st-5th grade in reading levels. They all enjoy being able to see adult signers. I enjoyed being able to pull up your site in class. Thanks for the info!! Hope all is going well.

Michelle __________
Deaf Ed Teacher>>


(Please know that I think the world of you and that any defensive tone in this letter is just my natural inclination to argue ANYTHING from both sides coming to the fore. Such being the case, I'm not responding to you but rather to the people that think "one way is the right way" -- which, strangely enough, usually happens to be their way. )

Now, ...on with the discussion...

If a person were to have gone through the lessons starting with number 1 and working forward, they would get to lesson two which contained the vocabulary word "single." Then they'd go to the "single" page, and see the variations.

Please DO go to the page so you can see what I'm talking about: [note this link may change over time]

It takes a while to load because of the graphics, but you will notice that I also show the "index" finger version of the sign. You asked if that is how "everyone is signing it in ASL now?"

I've yet to see "everyone" sign ANYTHING the same.

I include the lesser known variations of signs on the quizzes to make sure my students are thoroughly familiar with a wide range of sign choices. It is an arguable fact that SOME culturally Deaf signers do sign it with an "S" and I expect my online students to learn that variation as well as the other variations.

You said that the "S" version of "single" is an "English type" sign.

My response is: No more so than the signs Aunt and Uncle are "English type" signs.

There are many, many legitimate, widely used ASL signs that are initialized. Here are a few for example: Congress, yellow, workshop, whale, Monday, rocket, ready, semester, nurse, project, system, patient/hospital, law, governor, elevator...and my favorite: "family."

No one in their right mind, (but plenty in a wrong mind) would be willing to dispute that "family" is a bona fide ASL sign used by hundreds of thousands of culturally Deaf people on a regular basis.

But, since initialization is such an easy target to bash, many purists like to wield their clubs with glee.

ASL is a living language though, and as such is constantly changing and incorporating new lexicon (vocabulary).

Now, back to the "single" sign--check out:

Costello, E., & Lenderman, L. (1994). Random House American sign language dictionary (1st ed ed.). New York: Random House.

You will notice that Elaine lists the side to side mini-sweeping motion version of single as the main version. She lists the initialized version as an "alternate sign." And she doesn't even mention the "index finger to the sides of the mouth" version. (Which I DO mention on my page).

Does that "prove" the initialized version is "ASL?"

A man or woman convinced against his or her will, is a disbeliever still.

I could even jump on the other side of the fence and point out that the sign SINGLE has a non-initialized version that works well, (the index finger to the sides of the mouth) but the sign AUNT doesn't, therefore "SINGLE"-(initialized) is NOT as legitimate of an ASL sign as is AUNT. But then again, I could sign, "MY DAD, HIS SISTER" to mean AUNT though. Obviously, initialized signs for words like "I" and "WE" are not necessary in ASL. (Unless, perhaps, if you were using ASL to discuss English, heh.)

But, suffice to say, Elaine--in addition to her own lifetime worth of expertise gained from interacting with thousands of Deaf people--employed the knowledge and expertise of over 80 "sign informants," (most of whom are deaf) to ensure the appropriateness of the content of that dictionary.

So, if one or two, (or 10 or 20) people choose to debate the issue, I suggest they go debate it with Dr. Costello and her team of 80 sign informants.

As for me, I'll keep including it, and various other (but certainly not all) initialized signs in my curriculum.



In a message dated 10/11/2004 8:22:19 PM Pacific Daylight Time, a student writes:

Hi Dr Vicars

I'm wondering if it's normal to have severe wrist pain when first
starting to learn signing? My dominant hand-wrist is so sore, I can
barely manage some of the signs. Am I signing too "hard"? Or is this a
normal reaction to such novel movements? ...And will pass? What do Deaf
people do when they lose some functionality in the dominant hand?


Dear Student,

Yes, it is "normal."  But it depends. Some soreness yes.  A lot of soreness, no. 

If you are like me and do lots of computer work then add signing to the mix you might end up with some inflammation.

Yes, you might be signing with too much intensity.  Try to relax. Stretch more.  Consider putting on sports cream about 15 minutes before class.  Take an ibuprofen to help with the inflammation (ask your doctor if you have other issues).  Consider using a wrist brace--they are relatively inexpensive and can help stabilize your wrist while practicing your lessons.
If the soreness persists even after you've given your wrist a few days of rest to recuperate then you should see a medical professional.

Bill Vicars

In a message dated 10/12/2004 8:41:24 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

I grew up with deaf parents and have been studying your course lessons, however I have come across a sign that I am not familiar with,  just wanted to ask you...


your sign for "rude",    I had always known it as :  right hand R  and slide the right hand with a R down it..   Am I wrong with this sign? 

Dear Jill,

I'm not one prone to labeling the signs of others as being "wrong." There is so much variation out there that you can generally find two or three versions of almost any sign if you sign with enough people.

But since you asked about a specific sign, I'll share my viewpoint. 
The general sign for RUDE:

Right hand is in a modified "5" handshape with the middle finger bent forward at the large knuckle.

Left hand is in a "flat hand" handshape (similar to a "b" but with the thumb along side the fingers instead of bent across the palm.

Then slide the tip of the middle finger of the right hand along the left palm from the heel of the palm to the fingertips.


The version you are describing is an "initialized" version of "rude."  While I have indeed seen an initialized version of the RUDE sign, I recommend my students stick with the Middle finger version.  The initialized version is considered by many to be an example of "Signed English."


Dr. Vicars

DNEvans [3:06 PM]: Hello, Bill. You may not remember me, but I contacted you a while back to ask permission to use some of your photos (from your website) in my workshop workbook.
BillVicars [3:06 PM]: hi
DNEvans [3:06 PM]: Just wanted to let you know that I taught that workshop two days ago at the Illinois state conference (IRID) and it got rave reviews
DNEvans [3:07 PM]: Thank you for letting me use your pics in the book. That has definitely helped make this a very popular and effective workshop for me. I'm in your debt. =)
BillVicars [3:07 PM]: Oh that's great!
BillVicars [3:07 PM]: I'm glad it went well.
DNEvans [3:07 PM]: Hopefully it's also generating some traffic to your site.
BillVicars [3:07 PM]: The more the merrier.  Heh
DNEvans [3:07 PM]: zactly\
BillVicars [3:08 PM]: What was the topic?
DNEvans [3:08 PM]: Culturally bound concepts in ASL, what Dennis Cokely refers to as Culturally-Rich Realities
DNEvans [3:08 PM]: that particular workshop is called "A Rose By Any Other Name: A Look at Culturally-Bound Concepts in ASL"
BillVicars [3:09 PM]: Neat!  Is that published anywhere?  
BillVicars [3:09 PM]: What is Cokely's title that discusses that?
DNEvans [3:10 PM]: Basically, I take participants through the process of realizing that certain words have taken on "deaf-centered" meanings for interpreters, (deaf, hearing, oral, mainstream, etc) and that interpreters don't create an effective product when they render those signs in english that way.
BillVicars [3:10 PM]: Ah right.
DNEvans [3:10 PM]: Cokely's work can be found in the 2001 Journal of Interpretation, titled "Interpreting Culturally Rich Realities"
BillVicars [3:10 PM]: My wife signed the word "stubborn" the other day and the hearing people thought it was offensive.
BillVicars [3:10 PM]: They didn't realize that in our world it carries a wider range of meanings.
BillVicars [3:11 PM]: Like a "Toyota engine being 'stubborn.'"
BillVicars [3:11 PM]: Meaning it is a "good" engine and won't quit.
DNEvans [3:11 PM]: Cool
DNEvans [3:11 PM]: I can picture that now.
DNEvans [3:11 PM]: At first, I was.. "huh"
DNEvans [3:12 PM]: But after I signed it for myself, I started laughing cuz it makes perfect sense.
BillVicars [3:12 PM]: We were talking about characteristics of Jesus.
BillVicars [3:12 PM]: The hearing people didn't like their deity being maligned.
DNEvans [3:13 PM]: The process works in the other direction too: English to ASL. Interpreters have assigned a one word = one sign thing in their minds...
DNEvans [3:13 PM]: ...but this workshop focuses on common signs DEAF, HEARING, ORAL, INSTITUTE (deaf school), etc.
BillVicars [3:13 PM]: I had to explain to them that my wife meant "perseverance." 
DNEvans [3:14 PM]: <smirks>
DNEvans [3:14 PM]: I'd say the sign STUBBORN fits Jesus quite well in several respects. =)
BillVicars [3:14 PM]: heh   
BillVicars [3:14 PM]:  alrighty...well thanks for the update
BillVicars [3:15 PM]: you keep up the good work
DNEvans [3:15 PM]: You bet. Thank YOU!
DNEvans [3:15 PM]: Whee are you located?
BillVicars [3:15 PM]: Sacramento
BillVicars [3:15 PM]: Cal State U. Sacramento
DNEvans [3:16 PM]: Will you be at RID next year in San Antonio?
DNEvans [3:16 PM]: I've submitted to present this particular workshop there. I'd be honored to have you in the audience (assuming there isn't a better offering in the same time slot�laugh).
BillVicars [3:17 PM]: Don't think I can swing it.  I just moved here a year ago and the expenses are my wife and I have hunkered down
BillVicars [3:17 PM]: and set a goal to pay off the excess debt.
DNEvans [3:17 PM]: gotcha
BillVicars [3:17 PM]: So I don't get out much.  (sniff).
DNEvans [3:17 PM]: =(
BillVicars [3:17 PM]: But life is still good.
DNEvans [3:17 PM]: well, I think I remember someone saying they wanted me to come to Sac to present... don't remember whether there was any follow through though.
DNEvans [3:17 PM]: Ah well... thanks again and take care. =)
BillVicars [3:18 PM]: you too  
BillVicars [3:18 PM]: ga to sk
DNEvans [3:18 PM]: Bye for now. sk
BillVicars [3:18 PM]: sksk

In a message dated 10/27/2004 2:37:07 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Hello, Dr. Vicars,

Thank you for your wonderful web site.  I greatly appreciate your time and
talent and expertise you devote to others.  My question concerns negative
questions.  Recently, I saw a resource that contained an exercise that included
formulating and asking negative questions.  The directions asked that a person
sign a sentence that in English would begin:  "Isn't .....?".

Ok, this is my confusion.  The meaning of the sentence "Isn't your daughter a
dancer?"  is very different from the meaning of the sentence "Your daughter
isn't a dancer?".
Yet, in my mind, the second sentence is much more in keeping with the "negative
Perhaps:  YOUR DAUGHTER DANCER NOT? (Your daughter isn't a dancer?)

I am puzzled how the other sentence (Isn't your daughter a dancer?) would
be "written" and signed and to be true to the meaning of a negative question.  
To my mind, yes limited as it is, I would construct as follows:
Perhaps:  YOUR DAUGHTER DANCER?  (Is your daughter a dancer?)
I would think using the Yes/No Question structure would be less cumbersome and
be true to the meaning.

What am I missing?  I cannot figure out how to construct a good negative
question -- given my understanding of its meaning and at the same time
construct it as the author of this resource is requesting --- sign a sentence
that in English would start "Isn't...?".

I hope that I have stated this in an understandable manner.  This resource also
asks readers to do the same with a sentence that in English would start:
"Didn't you.....?".  I have the same sort of confusion with this as I described

Thank you for taking time to read my e-mail.  I do understand that you cannot
reply to all letters.  But, I am hoping!



It is all in the nonmanual markers.

The way to do an "Isn't...?" type sentence in ASL is to raise your eyebrows, tilt your head forward an inch, use a slight negative headshake, and hold the last sign and raised eyebrows longer than normal.

For example:

English:  Didn't you go?


ASL:  YOU NOT GO YOU? - [eyebrows up, head tilted forward, slight negative headshake, hold last sign longer and keep head tilted and eyebrows up.]


English:  Isn't your daughter a dancer?

ASL:  YOUR DAUGHTER NOT DANCER? - [eyebrows up, head tilted forward, slight negative headshake, hold last sign longer and keep head tilted and eyebrows up.]


Dr. Vicars


Colleges with large ASL departments often times have student-run clubs.  These clubs are just groups of students who set up activities that involve signing.  So you might consider calling around to the various student government offices of any colleges in your area and asking if they have an ASL club at their school.  Or contact any ASL teachers in your area to see if they know of any ASL clubs.

I think it is entirely possible for a hearing newbie to attend a "deaf club" without offending anyone. It seems to me that I would not be offended by someone who was unobtrusive and polite.

Let's think of it from a regular club member's point of view.  Deaf people attend a Deaf club to socialize.  We do not attend a club so we can "teach" or "tutor" ASL students who are only there because their ASL instructor put a requirement on the syllabus that students have to attend a certain number of "Deaf events" to get credit for the class. 

Let me give you a real life example of a related situation: 

I attended a Deaf church in another state a number of years back.  Since that particular city did not have many "Deaf Events" the Church became the "default" target for hearing students wanting to fulfill their class assignments.

Each week a new group of students would show up and behave like tourists at a tourist attraction.  You can imagine this got old fast and a certain percentage of the regular congregation didn't appreciate spending their worship time feeling like fish in a bowl.  Not everybody felt that way.  Just some. Others were happy to see hearing people making any kind of effort to learn ASL and interact with the Deaf community. 

It comes down to attitude. If I think that a hearing person is "hanging out with me" just to get 25 points toward his grade then obviously I'm not going to be as receptive as I would be if this hearing person paid a one-year membership fee to support the local Deaf club, showed up at the club's "Blood Drive," baked a cake for the raffle, and stayed after to put up the chairs and sweep the floor.

Deaf people will slowly warm up to a hearing person who is genuinely interested in learning the language and is a hard worker who shows again and again.


Dr. Vicars


In a message dated 10/13/2004 8:20:08 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Dear Dr. Vicars


 I never intended to offend any one. It's a long story about, my Sign Language path. I didn't think going to a Club was necessarily correct either. I didn't know there were sign language clubs.



----- Original Message -----



Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2004 2:10 PM

Subject: Re: Newbie


In a message dated 10/13/2004 11:04:11 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Dear Dr. Vicars;


Oops! On that Course 1. It was $100.00 course with It would be nice to attend your class, especially your Disney excursion, not that I like Disney ,but WOW what an experience! I guess what I am asking about the deaf club is that I looking for interaction with the Deaf/deaf where would be  a good place? It did come to me maybe I could volunteer at ST. Rita a deaf school. [might be better ?] I have tried interacting with deaf girl at church with no avail I don't know if it's because she's deaf and not Deaf. 


Thanks for your 

willingness and perseverance



Ah, I see. Okay.  You are a "self-study" student.

A deaf club would be "okay" -- but a sign language club would be better. 

Deaf clubs are for Deaf people and advanced signers.  But it varies.  Some clubs welcome new blood and are happy to take hearing people of any skill level.  Other groups are more exclusive and just want to sign to each other and not be fish in a tank.

Volunteering at St. Rita seems to me the better bet, plus it will look good on your resume.

Dr. Vicars

 Jej38 [8:04 AM]:  I sometimes shadow, or feed signs to interpreters at meetings.  How much should I feed the interpreter without being disruptive to the deaf persons?
BillVicars [8:05 AM]:  How much salt should you put on food?
BillVicars [8:05 AM]:  Depends on the person and the food.
Jej38 [8:06 AM]:  thank you.
BillVicars [8:06 AM]: Welcome :)


In a message dated 11/9/2004 6:08:38 AM Pacific Standard Time, writes:

We are supposed to find the signs ourselves, or make something up that
represents the sign. For example, if you were giving your presentation on
firemen, and you didnt know the sign for it, you would have to act out
being a firemen until the class understood the point you were trying to get
    I have 2 teachers in this manual communications class. One is an
audiologist and is not fluent is asl at all.  She teaches us only about
SEEII, Signed English, and Cued Speech, and Cochlear Implants, and the
History of Deaf Education and their culture.  My other teacher is our sign
lanugage lab instructor.  She knows more ASL, and I think it fluent for the
most part, but doesn't know everything.
    We are supposed to find the signs for ourselves, and as my sign
language teacher is teaching us words from a list, she will skip over words
if they will be used in one of our presentations.
    We aren't even being taught ASL, more of a pigeon language.  We don't
sign is, are , was, were, but we sign in english order.
   I'm really sorry to bother you.  I was just wondering if you know when
the sign for pilgrim will be up on your site.  I have looked up a lot of
signs on your website and you have no idea how much of a help it has been
for me.  Thank you for making the information so accessible.
Ashley, LSU Communications Disorder major, Linguistics minor


Here you go:

I posted three pics to that page.

Plus I put a link to an animation.

You might need to refresh the page.

Good luck on your presentation.


In a message dated 10/28/2004 4:06:26 PM Pacific Standard Time, a reader writes:

Good afternoon, Bill

Just finished reading one of your articles in PAH regarding adult learning and I couldn't agree with you more...Immersion in a classroom just isn't immersion. I'm struggling with a no-voice Fingerspelling class right now and don't want to slow down the class with incessant AGAIN AGAIN ...SLOW...signs (nor do I necessarily want the whole class to know how much I am struggling!)
Fingerspelling is very difficult for me and without the support of my first language I must be missing over 50% of the content. It's not like I'd need the damn word voiced every time it is fingerspelled, but until I have some context (visual / physical / memory) fingerspelling looks like jibberish to me. Even when I ask the teacher to slow down, it is still too fast. It is so frustrating for me, I hate to even practice! BTW - my GPA in the ASL curriculum (this is my 7th semester taking ASL classes) is 4.0, until this semester. I have a master's degree, and I've been in my profession for over 20 years. It isn't like I don't know how to study / learn.
No - there's no answer I'm looking for. It is just nice to know that there is an ASL teacher out there who understands Adult Learning theory. I've had Signing Naturally in ASL I,II, and IV. Pretty much a waste. Luckily, I love the language and now have transferred into a unit at work where there is a Deaf woman who kids me about my FS, spells slowly for me until I recognize the hand shape of the word, and then picks up the pace. How can that be a bad thing in the learning process? What is all the hype about bi-bi learning and why wouldn't that method apply to any person over the age of 4 picking up a second language?

Mostly - I appreciate your perspective.

Thanks. Please don't use my name.

Dear student,

I think you hit upon the secret to successful fingerspelling instruction when you mentioned the idea of "context."  Fingerspelling instruction should provide massive amounts of context.
--Dr. Vicars

In a message dated 11/11/2004 10:27:40 PM Pacific Standard Time, Gunabaswatsd writes:

Hello Bill,


    Is there a sign for chess or must it be fingerspelled?  I love to play (and I love ASL) and if it's possible that there is one place in particular in the city I live in where non-hearing people go to play chess I'd like to find it someday, but that's assuming that there is a place where they go to play.  I just never thought about it until very recently if there is a sign for "chess."


Thank you,


In general, no, there is no sign for chess.  At least none that I've seen.  It would be fun to go to a Deaf Chess Tournament and ask around for the sign for "chess" to see if any of those guys have such a sign.  Let me know if you find a good sign for it someday.

In a message dated 11/18/2004 6:25:13 AM Pacific Standard Time, kormsby@Lee.Edu writes:

Hi Bill! I have another question: How do you sign offend. It is not really the same as insult so I hesitate to use that sign as insult suggests intended rudeness and offend can be unintended and maybe even only a difference of opinion. You understand what I am saying? I just want to be clear J

when interpreting English words that fall in the same category, yet have different levels of intensity which in reality change the meaning. Thanks in advance for you continuing help J J

Kimberly Ormsby
Lee College
ASL Interpreter

I use the same sign for both concepts.  If I need to indicate that someone intended to hurt someone else's feelings I'll sign something like HE RUDE OFFEND STUDENT. Plus, as you pointed out, the intensity of the sign also carries meaning.  So, if it was an intended offense I'll use increased intensity during the sign.

Offend / insult is directional, you can modify it and glance it off your own lower chest area to indicate "I'm offended."

There is no "required" format for signing in Church.  The main thing to consider is your audience.  Who are you signing to?  If you are signing to deaf adults who use American Sign Language then your goal should be to convey the message via ASL.  If your audience consists of deaf adults who use Signed English then you should use Signed English.  You have to consider your role though.  Are you there as an interpreter or as a teacher?  Perhaps you see your role as being a teacher who goes out and learns the Lord's Prayer in ASL and brings it back to the congregation to share (via ASL) with the deaf members. When in doubt, it is certainly best to ask your deaf members what they prefer.
Also, let me point out that ASL does not "drop" concepts. Nuances of meaning are incorporated into ASL via inflection of signs and non-manual markers. Changes in your facial expressions and to the size, speed, direction and orientation of your signs create very real changes in meaning. Thus certain concepts have changed form but have not been dropped.

Bill V.

At their site you can do a search for "baby cry" and it will pull up a page with such a device that can be ordered.

Since she is Deaf, you might check to see if she has applied for your state's Vocational Rehabilitation program.  They can pay for daycare and send her to school to get a degree.

She might also qualify for SSI.  Check with your local Office of Social Security for the forms.

Now, I did some more checking and it turns out that your best bet for a baby cry alarm might just be at Walmart.  Check out this link:

Fisher-Price Sounds 'n Lights Monitor 
The Sounds 'n Lights monitor delivers superior communication of baby's call. It features concentric arcs of light that make it easier to see baby's call from a greater distance. From Fisher-Price, Model No. 79636.
Radial light display gives a superior communication of baby's call
Concentric arcs of light have a bolder, more visible glow so Mom can see her baby's call more clearly and from a greater distance
New contemporary housing design for both transmitter and receiver
2 channels to reduce interference
AC/DC operations
On/off with volume control
Low battery indicator
From Fisher-Price, Model No. 79636


American Sign Language University � � William Vicars

ASLU is not accredited.
We are not seeking accreditation.
We are a curriculum resource and online study program.

The ASLU version of "American Sign Language 1" is analogous (similar) to the course I teach at California State University Sacramento.

I don't advertise that though since it is important to me that it is clear to students that they are not signing up for college credit when they are only signing up for a much less expensive "community education" course offering. However, if a high-school (not college) student passes this course and would like official �academic credit� she can contact the College of Continuing Education at Sacramento State and request �contract residence credit� (as a high school student), fill out a registration form, pay an ADDITIONAL processing fee, and receive actual college credit. This may require waiting until the next semester. 

I cannot guarantee that this option will always be available but I can state that it has been used by more than one student in the past.

Allow me to be VERY clear here:  There is no connection between ASLU and CSUS.  Just because two different colleges use the same book for a course doesn't mean that the two colleges are connected in any way.  Just because you study a topic at ABC College and it transfers to XYZ College doesn't mean that those two colleges are linked.

And since I'm being "clear" make sure you realize that I came up with the name ASLU back when the use of the word "university" was a "cute" / "cool" name for an online curriculum resource. Then LATER all these REAL universities started offering online programs!!!  

See below for details regarding the college credit option as well as other information regarding the ASLU "ASL 1" course.
Dr. Bill Vicars

Here are the details:
Program: California State University, Sacramento, College of Continuing Education
Course title: American Sign Language 1
Course number: DEAF 51
Class number: ________
[The specific class number varies each semester, ask Liz Arellanes if there is a current number available or if she can set one up. See below for contact information.]
Note: The 3 units discussed here is actual college credit. Not just CEUs.
Contact person: Liz Arellanes, Senior Program Coordinator, College of Continuing Education, Sacramento State, 3000 State University Drive, MS 6103, Sacramento, CA 95819. Fax: 916.278.3685 Phone: 916.278.6249. Website:

Course Description: ASL 1 is an introduction to American Sign Language. This course introduces basic vocabulary, grammatical knowledge, and cultural awareness. Students also learn fingerspellling, and basic ASL numbering. Prerequisites: None, this is an introductory class.

Course rigor: The course grade is based on the student's completed assignments and quiz scores � including 15 lesson quizzes, 3 unit tests, a research paper, a culture and terminology test, an instructor-graded video project and an in-person proctored final exam. The course covers over 300 vocabulary concepts, 300 sentences, numerous grammar principles & cultural items as well as fingerspelling and signed numbers.

Course validity: The course was designed by Dr. Bill Vicars who holds an earned doctorate in Deaf Studies / Deaf Education from an accredited university (Lamar University, Texas), and has over 25 years of experience teaching American Sign Language, visual language linguistics, and sign language pedagogy in a wide variety of settings including internationally (Singapore, Guyana,) and online (with over 100,000 subscribers to Currently Dr. Vicars is a full-time, tenured, award-winning*, full-professor of American Sign Language at Sacramento State University.
(*Teacher of the Year)

To receive college credit from a recognized accredited educational institution you must contact that institution and make arrangements with them. Get it in writing. 

If you are simply using this site for self-study or as a curriculum for an in-person class then please do not register and do not pay anything.  Just study for free.

ASL University can provide documentation of your having completed a certain amount of work or having demonstrated a certain level of proficiency but that takes time and effort on our part and thus requires registration and fee payment.

Some students do register and pay tuition to take an online course here and then apply this course toward  fulfillment of graduation or foreign language requirements at their local school. Some colleges and high schools that have allowed one or more of their students to use the ASLU (Lifeprint) course toward fulfillment of graduation or foreign language requirements are listed below. Note, this is only a partial list. Also, some are ongoing programs.

Ballard Memorial High School (2005)
Belhaven College, 1500 Peachtree Street, Jackson, MS 39202, (C.M. Poe, 2006)
Emerson College, 180 Tremont St. Boston MA 02116 (2005)
Indiana University (Doug Haskins 2006)
Lamar University, Beaumont Texas (2003)
Portland Christian High School, (Michelle Weber, 2007)
United Middle School, United Independent School District, Laredo, Texas (Christian Escamilla 2007)
Pusch Ridge Christian Academy 9500 N. Oracle Rd. Tucson, AZ 85704 (Jessica McGlynn 2007)
St. Bonaventure High School, 3167 Telegraph Road, Ventura, CA 93003, (Cody Ricewood, Oct. 2006)
St. Thomas Aquinas College 125 Route 340 Sparkill, NY 10976 (Erin Simon, Jan 2007)
Southwest Christian High School (2005) 103 Peavey Road, Chaska Minnesota 55318 -2323 (multiple students)
Utah Electronic High School (SLC Utah, 2005 program)
Webster County High School 1922 US HWY 41 A South Dixon Kentucky 42409 (Matthew Perriard 2005)
Plus others.

Additional discussion:
Remember, Lifeprint doesn't offer "credit." It offers CEUs. Some students sign up under their local university or meet with an advisor who may agree to accept the Lifeprint course in satisfaction of or to waive language requirements etc.  Back in 2004 at California State University, Sacramento, the Chair of the Department, asked me to teach the course through the CSUS College of Continuing Education for credit since he wanted to see the Department expand into online instruction. Here at Sac State if a student wants Sac State credit for studying online they can sign up for section 50 of Sac State's EDS 51 or EDS 52 offered via the Sac State College of Continuing Education.  That specific section of EDS 51 (ASL 1) and EDS 52 (ASL 2) has used the curriculum for five years now. (As of 2010)   To see the current course listing, visit:  and scroll down to the EDS 51 (ASL 1) link.
Bill Vicars


ASL University only provides continuing education units and college level equivalency certification.  Which is to say, we provide appropriate documentation when a student can demonstrate to me what we consider to be a certain level of KSAs (knowledge, skills, and abilities) in ASL--including signing, ability, culture, history, and terminology.  The student can then present the documentation to his school or employer. 

Frequently people ask me how to become "certified in ASL."  Usually what they actually want to know is how to become a "certified ASL interpreter." 

Completing an ASL course or an ASL program and obtaining a "certificate of completion" is not the same as becoming a certified interpreter.  There is a difference between "having a certificate (of completion)" and "being a certified ASL interpreter." 

There are a number of certifications available related to ASL that are issued by various organizations:

Interpreter Certification: There are several types of interpreter certification available. Many states have their own system of certifying interpreters. There is also national certification available from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and the National Association of the Deaf.

Teacher of the Deaf Certification: For people who want to teach Deaf children in the public school system or at a residential school for the Deaf. This certification is provided by state departments of education. 

ASLTA Certification: This certification is for people who want to teach ASL. ASLTA stands for American Sign Language Teachers Association. 

Public School Student Certification: This type of certification is offered by some state systems to their high school students who complete a course of study and pass a comprehensive final.

ASLPI: The American Sign Language Proficiency Interview is a test that many employers use to determine if job applicants are have the ASL skills necessary to do the job for which they are interviewing. It is also used to determine ASL proficiency for placement in some education programs.

SCPI: Sign Communication Proficiency Interview: This test is used by employers and others to determine if job applicants are able to communication in sign language.


In a message dated 4/16/2005 3:58:15 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, school4asl@ writes:

Dear Dr. Vicars:


I am interested in attaining a certificate in ASL in a short amount of time and am interested in the program.  I have seen a lot of scams out on the internet.  How am I to know if this is a legitimate program?  I want to be able to interpret for a summer program this summer.  Sign Language comes to me easily and I know if I applied myself I could learn the stuff offered through this program.  I have no doubts from what I've seen through the free program offered online that the program itself is legitimate, but I question the completion/certificate.



Liz _______

Hello Liz,

Taking two levels of ASL via the internet will NOT prepare you to interpret.

A typical in-person first semester language course will generally help the students achieve an ACTFL proficiency level of �novice high� for listening/speaking, and �novice mid� for reading/writing.

A second semester language course will generally help the students achieve an ACTFL proficiency level of �intermediate low� for listening/speaking and �novice high� for reading/writing.

What about an online ASL class?
I'm finding that my students, after two semesters are achieving an ACTFL proficiency level of �intermediate low� for receptive skills and a "novice high" for expressive skills.  This corresponds to the increased emphasis on receptive skills during the instruction process.
To legitimately interpret ASL, I would recommend at least a level of "Advanced-High."  This would require several years of study (around 600 instructional contact hours) and many hundreds of hours of practice. 

As far as the ASLU certificate of completion goes it is simply a piece of paper that states you have successfully completed an ASL course. Go here for an example:  transcript.
My online courses can certainly help you in your efforts to become an interpreter but to become good enough to get certified you will most likely need to enroll in an actual Interpreter Training Program.
Dr. Vicars

A student named Garrick asked:  Is ASL University Accredited?
Dr. Bill Vicars' Response:  My wife tells me I'm "certifiable." 
(Ahem. That's an old reference to being "certifiably crazy" for those of you too young to catch that joke.)  ASL University is not accredited by any government agency that I know of. 
I hold a doctorate from an accredited university (Lamar U, in Beaumont, TX).

Let me give you some perspective:

ASL "University" was set up in 1997 as a resource for my students.  It was a website ( that served as a textbook for a chatroom based ASL course offered through AOL.

Back then the idea of an "actual" university being online was so rare and new as to be silly.  People saw the name "ASL University" and knew that it was just a clever name for some sort of ASL learning resource site, but they never thought, "Wow! Getting an ASL degree online! That's amazing! I wonder if they are accredited?"

Well, time marched on and before long many real universities DID start showing up on the net.  These days it is expected that a University have an online presence.  People started emailing me--asking how to register, asking how much tuition was, asking if ASLU was accredited.

Quite honestly, I'm not seeking "accreditation" for ASLU.  Maybe someday.  For now this site serves as an online curriculum resource used by various instructors. ASLU derives its credibility from me, not some outside source.
Dr. Bill

(William G. Vicars, Ed.D.)

Also see:  Equivalency: Classroom Contact Hours


You can learn sign language online at American Sign Language University �
hosted by � Dr. William Vicars

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