ASL Grammar Without The Frustration

But then... you've started to learn it and your brain cramps up, there's just so much to it that you get confused and frustrated, and just worry that no one in the world will understand a thing you're saying. Much less your grammar being correct.

Or worse.

They'll laugh at you (and not in a good way). They'll tell you to stop signing, tell you to quit, and make you feel like a big embarrassed piece of garbage.

First of all, let me assure that none of the above will happen.

Second, I am here to help you move forward and get comfortable with grammar. So comfortable that you won't even realize you're using grammar, but will just be signing along, enjoying yourself, and not headed for a panic and stress-induced stroke.

Exciting ASL News for You #SignItUp

fangirlgif I have some fun news for y'all!


It's about ASL... and me... and you.


Can you guess?


Probably not.  Okay, I'll tell!


Click the CC button to enable captions.  If you are viewing on a tablet or phone here is the URL to watch it on YouTube Watch on YouTube



 ^^ Captions!! Turn the captions on!! ^^

Isn't that exciting?  I know, it is!


learn asl in 31 days


Set your calendars!  Starting October 1st there will be a new ASL lesson for you every stinkin' day!


If you're not familiar with my style here are two of my previous videos you can check out.


Top 10 ASL Signs You Should Know

Top 10 (More) ASL Signs You Should Know


I not only show you the sign, but will make sure you see exactly how to sign it and some variations of using that sign.  In my second video I show you the sign for understand. I give 4 variations.



  1. Understand
  2. I don't understand
  3. Do you understand?
  4. Yes, I understand


The fun part is you learn one sign, but by changing your facial expressions you can express four different things. Pretty sweet huh?


I think so.


Another thing you'll notice is I do not use my voice. Now, there may be a video here and there that will require that I use my voice, but when I'm teaching it won't be "on."  You may have a hard time with that, and I get it, but it's really the best way to learn ASL. It's a way to immerse yourself.


I also won't be putting music to it because that could be distracting.  Plus, you may miss out on all the lovely sounds I make (har har) when I sign or the children on the other side of the door.  You wouldn't want that, now would you?


I didn't think so.

You're welcome.


I will include practice sheets for the lessons as well.  You've got to know how to put the signs together to actually make sentences.  You can't just throw some signs around and call it good.


It's going to be fun and simple!  There will be no sweating or worrying!  There's no grade at the end, unless you want one.


Use #SignItUp to connect with me and others that are signing along.  You can ask questions, make comments, let everyone know you're watching or practicing or anything else you'd like to say.


sign it up


You can connect with me here, on Twitter, Facebook,  Google +, and YouTube. I am here for you!


Are you as excited as I am?


GIF courtesy: reactiongifs.com !

18 (More) Things to Never Say to a Deaf Person!

Do you struggle to know what is the right and wrong thing to say to a Deaf person?

You remember the list of 13 Things to Never Say to a Deaf Person I wrote a while back?

Well, since then I have spoken to some of my Deaf friends and have found more things to add to that list.

This time though, I wanted to add a positive element to it.

In a conversation I had with my husband he said that a lot of times you just don't know anything about Deaf people or that there's even a Deaf culture/community and the things people are doing aren't always because they're being malicious, but because they think they're helping.  People just don't know what the right thing to do is.

It was something to think about.

In this post you'll not only learn what not to do, but what to do!

Learn more of what not to say to a Deaf person. Read on for not just a list of what not to do, but what to do instead!


"Wow you speak so well for a Deaf person."


If you really want to comment on their speech, say it a different way.  The offensive part is "for a Deaf person."


"You must be really smart to be able to talk."


Again, if you want to comment on their speech you could say, "you speak really well." or "You must have worked really hard on your speech."

Any level of speech is hard hard work.  Tons of hours and lessons.  Speech doesn't indicate intelligence.  You may mean well, but make sure what you're saying is actually nice and not demeaning.


"Why don’t you get a cochlear implant?"


You could ask them about the assistive devices they do use.  Or ask them about their decision to not use a CI or hearing aid (if they don't use them).


"Have you thought about getting ear transplants?"


Think before you speak.  There are no such things.


"You have hearing aids, shouldn’t you hear normally now?"


If you're truly wanting to know about their hearing aids, ask them a more in-depth and specific question.  What is their hearing loss?  How effective are their hearing aids?  Do they like them?  What are some of the hard things about using a hearing aid?

Cochlear implants and hearing aids really are a personal decision.

-  CIs are not a cure all.

- You do not hear perfectly like a hearing person does.

- They do not always work.

- They are not reversible.

- The surgery can be incredibly painful to recover from

- There can be complications.

- They are at least $30k. If they are what they want and use, awesome. If they don't, that's awesome too. Be respectful in the way you approach this highly sensitive topic.

Hearing aids mostly amplify the background sounds. You ever watched a movie where the soundtrack was loud, but you couldn't hear the actors? You turn up the volume but you still can't hear.  Or, pretend you're in a crowded cafeteria and you're trying to hear the person across from you.


Assume they know every deaf person in the world – or care that you know someone that knows someone that has a deaf friend


Try to find some other fun ways to connect with them.  They are more than just Deaf or Hard of Hearing.  They like other things too! Promise.


"How can you work if you can’t hear?"


Ask them what they do for a living.


If they ask you to repeat the last sentence and you repeat the first sentence


Pay attention to their request.  Listen to them. It's typically the last sentences that get lost in speech.  People look away, people mumble, their volume fades, or their words run together.  If they ask about a specific part of what you said, repeat only that.


Talk to someone else instead of them.


If you want to speak to a Deaf person and there's a hearing person with them to interpret, still direct your conversation to the Deaf person.  If there isn't you can write what you want to say to them. Do include them in the conversation. They want to contribute just like you do.


"Wow, you don’t look deaf!"


"Wow, it's nice to meet you!"


Take advantage of them.


Treat them as equals.


"Can you read and write?"


Treat them as a "normal" person. They are just as intelligent as you are.


Don’t throw objects or stomp/bang at them to get their attention


Politely tap them on the shoulder. Flick the lights. Wave.


Don’t stand there waiting for their conversation to end or duck through.


If you want to get by and you can't get around them then just say excuse me and walk through quickly.


Exaggerated gestures and mouth movements or move around.


Speak straight on. Look at them, speak normal.  Keep your head facing them and your hands and other objects away from your mouth.


I’m sorry… and give them the "funeral face."


When you find out they're Deaf you don't have to make a comment about it really. If you feel the need, you can say something positive.  There's nothing to be sorry about.  They're not sorry, you don't have to be sorry.  Again, be respectful.


Tell them they’ll be healed if they repent.


Be intelligent.  Deafness does not come from a sin or their parents' sins.  This is just ridiculous and hurtful.  You ought to look at yourself and repent for being a jerk.


"Never mind," or "I'll tell you later."


Include them in the conversation, the TV show, the fun.  If they ask you to repeat something repeat it.  Even if you have to repeat it a few times, please be kind and repeat it until they understand.

Every single Deaf and Hard of Hearing person I have spoken to says this is their #1 don't. They even joked saying it should be banned from ASL and Deaf culture. These words can put great gulfs between families and friends.  It can cause them to feel isolated and unimportant.  Please please please be aware of others.


I heard a lot of stories that were just so sad.  There are just some rude and hurtful people out there.  I don't think they're doing it just to those that are Deaf. I'm sure they treat everyone like that.  That doesn't make it less hurtful though.

I know you always mean well. I know you would never hurt someone intentionally. Don't think I doubt your sincerity or your friendliness.

When you see a person who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing please keep these Dos and Don'ts in mind.  If in doubt try to think of what you'd want someone to treat you.  But you know that!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it with this simple tweet:

Tweet: I just learned the Dos and Don'ts of talking to a Deaf person.


Is there something you've been wanting to know about people who are Deaf? Please feel free to ask -- no one will judge you here.  I promise.


All GIFs courtesy of reactiongifs.com

What The Deaf Can Do: In The Theatre

  People want to know what the Deaf are capable of doing.

Mothers want to know what the future holds for their Deaf child.

I want to take some time to explore the many careers and opportunities that are out there for the Deaf.

Ever wonder what the Deaf can do? They can do anything! Come check out the Deaf in the theatre and see for yourself.

A play's a play

As you know I love the theatre.

You didn't?  Well, now you do.


I recently attended a play at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, called The Heart of Robin Hood.  

All I knew about the play was its name.  I didn't know what type of a show to expect, all I knew was that I love Robin Hood.

There are many many things I could say about this play.  It was just amazing.  It was held in the Elizabethan Stage, which is a gorgeous outdoor stage.  You walk into a garden and there's a secret theatre just waiting for you beyond the bushes.   Just enchanting.

The energy pulsates through the crowd as you sit down to watch.

The characters were genius.  They were hilarious and yet felt real and vulnerable.  There was great emotion across the spectrum that just seeped into your heart and took you for a ride.

Clearly, I loved it.

A big surprise

Something I didn't expect was Howie Seago.  Howie Seago is an absolutely brilliant actor. Bonus: he's Deaf!  How serendipitous that I was able to attend a play at the OSF (where my book is based) and have a Deaf actor (which is also in my book) be in the very same play I attended.

I truly loved the way they wove his character into the play.  He is Little John, and they had him be Deaf.  They used a crude rendition of sign, that would be pretty accurate for that time period, to communicate.  The other characters used it as well when talking to him.

Howie was flawless and hilarious.  You didn't need to know ASL to understand him.

I don't know how the script was originally written, but it felt like it was intentional for Little John to be Deaf.  It was so seamless and real.  It wasn't just a play where Howie signed and then someone spoke the words he would say, and they didn't have him just try to voice either as though he were hearing.

The way ASL was integrated was truly truly brilliant.

How did they integrate ASL?

Howie is the first and only Deaf actor the OSF has ever had on their stage.    I read several articles on him after I came home from the play.

When in Henry V he was a military commander.  He had his own Royal Interpreter on stage -- a real character -- to follow him around and interpret.

In 2011 he was Bob Ewell in To Kill a Mockingbird, who forces his daughter to interpret his perjury in court.  He and his onstage daughter created a "hillbilly" sign language that really added great depth and credibility to his character.

In Music Man he was an ex-con that used sign language with his partner to silently plan out their evil deeds.

To me it is incredible the barriers they are breaking.  He is an actor, not just a Deaf actor.

His roles are being treated as such and not just having him act in Deaf Theatre.  Not that there's anything wrong with being in Deaf Theatre.  It's the fact that he's in roles that are not traditionally Deaf or that don't require a whole Deaf company.  They are integrating ASL and Deafness into the role and making it authentic.


Many people in the Deaf community have flocked to the OSF.  They have 9 signed performances and 26 open captioned performances!

Do you understand how incredible that is!?  Seriously, that is amazing!  9 signed performances and 26 captioned performances!  That is not typical.

Why is this important?

This is part of my mission here on this blog.

  • To open people's eyes to the Deaf community.
  • I want people to know that people who are Deaf are people first and Deaf second.
  • That they are more than capable of many things.
  • That it is possible to work with those that are Deaf and Hard of Hearing and not just around them.

To me the OSF is inspirational.  They not only work with an actor that is Deaf (and provide many interpreters for rehearsals -- 12 hour rehearsals at times) but the way they integrate him into the play.

They integrate deafness into their scripts, into each of the actors that perform with him.  They're all a part of it and it changes the depth of the play, the depth of the characters, and the strength of the message.

Please share this idea with those that you think may need it:

Tweet: The Deaf can do everything except hear.

Your Turn

What do you think of people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing being in the theatre?  What do you think of the saying, "the Deaf can do everything except hear?"

The Shocking Truth About ASL in GIFs

Has someone asked you a question before and you just wanted to smack them?

I know I have.

Does this make me a bad person?  Perhaps.  I'm not too worried about it.

Let me give you a sampling of eye-crossing questions I've been asked throughout the years about ASL.

[Tweet "Dumb questions people ask the Deaf ."]

How do you say hello in ASL?

How do you say goodbye in ASL?

There's lots of ways...

Can you read braille?

Braille?  Um...

All monkeys know ASL

[Tweet "Do all monkeys know sign language?"]

I was just at the Portland Zoo a few weeks back and I seriously overheard a woman telling her friend that all monkeys know ASL.

Say what!?

Her friend was like

Then the first lady said, "see, let me show you"

The monkey was like 

The friend was like "OMG What did he just say?"

I was like

But maybe I'm wrong.  These two animals seem to already know how to sign.

Why are Deaf people so loud?

What do you mean so loud?  You mean you can hear them when they sign?  I hear you when you talk.  Same thing.

Oh, you mean they stomp around and slam cabinets and slurp?  Well, they don't do that.  Well, I guess some Deaf do. I've only seen it in their homes or if they were kids.  I can say the same with hearing people.  Take my family: we're super loud.

They can't always tell how loud something is.  You can only tell your volume by the strength of the vibrations in your throat.

Can Deaf people talk on the phone?

It depends on what you mean by talk.

If they can voice they can technically talk.  If their hearing loss is minor, they might be able to. Hearing aids don't work too well with electronics sometimes.

There is TTY -- it was texting before texting was cool.  You'd say GA (go ahead) when you were done typing to indicate it was the other person's turn.  You can't interrupt on a TTY because it'll just give you garbledy-goop.  The TTY is outdated.  You can just text.

Now there's VRS.  Wahoo. VRS = Video Relay Service.



I covered lots more ridiculousness in the post 13 Things to Never Say to a Deaf Person .

Otherwise you might find me behind you.

with a smidge of mocking

and snickering.

Some people's kids.

Tweet: Your ASL questions answered in GIFs

When you are asked ridiculous questions how do you respond?


GIFs courtesy: http://www.reactiongifs.com