Should you only learn ASL from Deaf people?

should you only learn asl from deaf people.png


I’m going to be just a teeny bit controversial, but if you stick with me to the end, you’ll realize that it’s actually NOT controversial at all.


I sent out a survey to my subscribers just the other day asking “what do you want to know in regards to ASL?” I got a TON of answers, and you know what, the answers were pretty much the SAME for everyone.

Then I got this one response, that wasn’t really a response at all. I mean sure, it was a reply, but it wasn’t in answer to the question, “what’s your biggest challenge with learning ASL?”

This is something I have been emailed and messaged about throughout my years of teaching ASL online.



To sum it up →

“using xyz resources is all well and good, but you can’t learn sign language without signing with a Deaf person.”


Here’s where we get controversial… A little.


claim: You can’t learn sign language from a book or video


Let’s first talk about the claim that signing from a book, video, to yourself, or in front of a camera is helpful, but it doesn’t teach a person fluent sign language.

I both agree and disagree.



You CAN learn sign language by using these methods alone. If you look around at the hundreds of thousands of language learning courses in this world, you’ll see that this is the case. You can learn any language in this world with the *right* resources.

On a deserted island.


There are people in this world that have learned dead languages (meaning, languages that are no longer used and spoken in any culture or country) and can read, speak, and write in these languages.

And they learned it all from BOOKS!

Ancient Greek is one example I can think of off the top of my head. There are many scholars and regular folk that can communicate in a dead language.


I also agree that it’s not the ONLY way. And in some ways, it’s not the BEST way.


When I speak of pouring over your dictionary, watching ASL videos, signing with yourself, in front of a camera or mirror, I am speaking to moving forward.

What good is it to sign with someone if you’re not going to do the work and learn the signs? To practice them on your own?

Not much.


Going to a Deaf event and expecting all the Deaf people there to stop their socializing, their time with their friends and teach you everything they know about ASL is selfish, presumptuous, and ridiculous.


You can’t learn everything you need to know in an evening, in a month of evenings.


You use those times to REFINE your learning. To sharpen it, to practice, to make friends, and learn the finer nuanced signing skills that are NEVER EVER EVER taught in an ASL class because they’re learned IRL because that portion of the language is so fluid you can’t nail it down.

Let me repeat, you use it to REFINE. Not define.


You do the work on the front end. You put in the time, learn the signs, practice signing, and then you go out and sign with others.


Before you misunderstand, you don’t have to reach a high level to qualify. You can “qualify” before you even finish a level 1 course, or even half of a level 1 course


Claim: signing should only be learned from a Deaf person

Now let me address the next part. Signing with the Deaf Community.


If you can sign with people in the Deaf Community…  DO IT!

That’s a no brainer and something I do talk about.

My issue is twofold and are the very reasons I do not PUSH this idea (but I do state it, though I obviously need to state this more frequently for clarity’s sake).


Reason #1 I take issue


People use it as an excuse.

Oh, I can’t learn sign language because I have no one to practice with. I have no one to sign with.”


I call bull.

I learned for 8 years without someone to sign with.


The first time I met a Deaf person, I’d been signing (on my own) for 8 years, and I was 14 at the time. Yes, I started when I was 6-- I can document it. We met while we were ice skating at the local rink in Sugar Land, Texas.


She was a teenager and I was so excited to meet a fellow teenager friend, AND she was Deaf, AND I could sign with her.

We chatted and hung out that entire afternoon, and made plans to meet up every Saturday for the next month or so.

I was in heaven.

She was born Deaf, raised Deaf (meaning, she was taught ASL from birth) and we signed well together. It admittedly took me about 30 min - 1 hour to get comfortable understanding her signing with me (again, no one had ever signed TO me beyond my own reflection in the mirror), but I never struggled to sign with her.

In full disclosure, I was hella nervous (I was pretty shy) and was a bit stiff at first, but soon relaxed because she was so nice. She commented on how well I signed several times. Oh man, I was stoked!



The NEXT time I was with a Deaf person I was 17. (3 years later)


I had traveled with a good family friend to stay with her extended family up on a farm for the entire summer during my junior year of high school. Her older step-sister was Deaf.

She had a cochlear implant, and was also losing her vision. She grew up attending schools for the Deaf, while her family didn’t really know ASL and relied on her not so reliable cochlear implant to communicate with her.


We met and from that moment on, for the next 3 months, I interpreted for her everywhere we went, including several hours at church every Sunday.

I had never interpreted before!

Was I perfect at it?

Ha! That’s a laugh. But I was capable.

Of course, I grew and improved quite a bit over the next 3 months.


The next time I was with Deaf people was 1 year later when I was hired to work at the Utah School for the Deaf and Blind.


After that, I was on a volunteer trip for my church where I worked among the Deaf Community, I was in my 20’s.


Then I was working as an interpreter at the local high school, as well as teaching. From then on I was interpreting and teaching ASL.

The key things I want to make with this are:


1)I learned BEFORE I had the golden opportunity to meet a Deaf friend, however temporary (we moved).

2) I interpreted for a Deaf friend AFTER I had learned sign language.

Did I have more to learn? Absolutely! Was I fluent? I was competent, but not fluent fluent by 17.


3) During those times when I didn’t have someone to sign with I was actively learning and doing whatever I could to practice, learn, and grow.

Please remember, this was BEFORE the internet was what it is today. None of my resources available were found online.

So, yes, you can learn ASL without practicing with people AT THE BEGINNING to intermediate stage.


Will it be more fun with someone? Absolutely.

Will it progress faster? That’s possible.


Which brings me to reason #2

Reason #2

If I showed you the number of emails I have received over the years of people asking me how to find the Deaf Community where they lived you’d be astounded.

Every day.

Every day for the past 6 years, I have received an email from at least ONE person asking me this very question.


Do you know what I have to tell them?

And it darn well breaks my heart.


I give pointers for how they could possibly find them, but it’s really a big fat “good luck!”

  • If you should chance upon someone that’s signing grab ‘em and ask ‘em right away!

  • Go to the mall food court and ask there.

  • Go to the local coffee shops & bowling places & diners and ask if a group of Deaf people ever come in.

  • Go find a local college if they have an ASL teacher or club or a bulletin and ask there.


You can jump on good ole Googs (google) and not find anything.

Believe me, I’ve looked and looked. The last thing I ever found that said advertise your local Deaf group on this message board, the site looked like it was from 2001 and had definitely not been updated in the past decade. That was 5 years ago.


By all means HUNT THEM DOWN and once you find them, never let go.

But be prepared to do some major hunting and have some major patience.


In some places there is no Deaf community.


There are ASL groups online, and I have shared those with my followers. (ASL That! is

one of my favorites.)


But it’s not really the same as conversing with them one on one, or one to four.


And again, if people can’t find Deaf folks to chat with are they going to stop learning ASL?

A lot do. And that’s sad. And avoidable.


Are you going to tell someone that they should STOP learning ASL because they don’t have a Deaf person to learn from?

A lot of people do. And that’s sad.



To sum this novel up:

  1. Sign with ANYONE you can.

  2. Don’t let the lack of someone to sign with stop you from learning and signing.

  3. Sign with anyone you can, even if they’re a cursed hearing person, and when you do meet a Deaf or Hard of Hearing person you’ll be READY and raring to go!

  4. Do the work and stop the excuses.

  5. Be realistic and work within the boundaries and limitations you are experiencing right now.

  6. Never ever ever think that Rochelle says “don’t sign with Deaf people.” Because that’s an outright lie.

  7. Don’t rely on Deaf people to be your teacher, to give you their special time. If you meet someone at a Deaf event and you ask for their help, and you want more help from them, offer to pay them for their time outside of the Deaf event.

^^^^^^^^^

Okay… that last one, I did mention briefly at the beginning, but I want to address it a little more fully.


Imagine you’re having a girl’s night out (or boy’s night out) after a long and stressful week at work/school.


You’re so dang excited. You arrive, order some drinks, are laughing and having an amazing time when someone walks up to you.

They seem to be a nice person, and they speak to you with a broken accent.

“Hello, I Jennifer. I learn speak English.”

Naturally, being the kind person you are, you respond back and converse with them as much as you can.

Jennifer asks you questions and you reply.

Then you look at your watch, it’s been 2 hours and she’s still drilling you with questions about how to say this and say that. Your friends are bored. Some have left, some are tired of talking about English words.

She wants to meet you again next weekend for girls’ night to learn more English.

Your girls’ night didn't’ really go as planned, and you certainly don’t want to do this again next weekend.


This made up story illustrates a few things that I’ve mentioned, but want to show you in a different setting to shed light.



While some folks reading this would balk and say, “Oh no, but they always tell me they love to help me!”

“They always say to go to the Deaf events because that’s the only way you’ll learn.”

“Oh no! Oh no, this is not so!”


I’ll tell you what. It is so.


While most Deaf/HH folks would be happy to help you, remember they’re not there for YOU.

To think they are is again, presumptuous, selfish, and ridiculous to assume.

They’re there for the rare opportunity to hang out with their friends and other Deaf folks.


Because of this you will definitely run into folks that DO NOT want to sign with you. Understand from their perspective why this could be, and try again with another person or group.



  • Keep your questions to a minimum.

  • Don’t show up knowing the alphabet and 2 signs. Do some homework first.

  • Focus on interacting with them as PEOPLE rather than teachers. (because they are PEOPLE first, Deaf second)

  • If you want them to teach you, then hire them at a different time. Pay them for their knowledge and expertise rather than expecting them to give it to you for free. And on their time.


Ya feel me?


Okay.


Back to the final summary.



  1. Sign with people.

  2. Learn signs however you can whenever you can so you can sign with people.

  3. Sign with people.

  4. Excuses are excuses. Come up with solutions instead. Otherwise? It’s safe to say that whatever the goal is you’re making excuses for doesn’t mean enough to you. I’d say let go of the goal, let go of any regrets you may have, and move on to something that lights you up instead. No judgement from me if it’s sign language you let go of.



Am I the only person out there teaching ASL?

Of course not.

Am I the best?

I daren’t make that presumption.



But I will say, I’ve been in your shoes.

  • I know what it’s like to love the language, think it’s fascinating and want to learn even if there’s no real reason other than desire.

  • I have been in your shoes where I had no one to sign with. No one to tell me if I was doing it right or doing it wrong.

  • I know what it’s like to go from knowing nothing, to knowing a bit, to knowing more, to knowing a lot.

  • I know what it’s like to be terrified to sign with someone else.

  • I know what it’s like to be told I was doing it wrong while signing. (my grammar saga you may or may not be familiar with)

  • I know what it’s like to work towards a goal and a dream and achieve it.


My sole purpose is to get you set up with a solid foundation, be comfortable making mistakes, keep moving forward always, and know the guidelines of the language.

My sole purpose is to get you started on the right foot and moving forward.


Because I know how important signing with others is I set up practice partners in my ASL courses.

A moment of honesty, that was a hot mess. Folks would sign up and then never show up.

It was frustrating to me and to my students.

I then closed it down because this was a huge sticking point.

I set up a feature that people could find each other, with the hopes that people who actually wanted to do the work and took the time to reach out would actually do the work. Not always the case. And a lot of people didn’t want to take the time to reach out.

More frustration.

In my new course, The ASL Academy: LIVE I’m hoping to end this frustration for good.


I set up Group Practice sessions that I host each week.

I am there, every student is invited. Will 100% show up? Probably not, but a good many will.

The first bit of the practice session will be guided by me.


Then, I’ll split the big group up into smaller groups. Each week you’ll meet with a different group. Some could be the same, some could be different. The group may be smaller, it may be larger.


Each practice session will be guided-- meaning, you’ll know exactly what to do and how. No staring at each other shrugging shoulders.

Every week you WILL have someone to practice with.


Before that, you’ll have opportunity to watch a practice receptive video so that when you get on the practice call you’ll feel more comfortable and know what people are signing to you.


You’ll have the chance to get your questions answered before the group practice session. Meaning, you’ll know you’re signing it correctly. You’ll be able to learn additional signs if you desire. You’ll get better clarity. And again, have a chance to practice.


Think of how confident you’ll be when it comes to the group practice session!


And of course, the main training is presented with lots of repetition, lots of phrase and sentence building, in real time so you can get your questions answered then and there. You can sign along with me and I can correct your signing.


You know what’s even cooler? You can then take your new signing skills, your confidence, and get out there and sign with anyone, Deaf or hearing.

Bottom line.

You can learn sign language if you want to learn sign language with whatever method you can use at the time.

The 2 things required to learn ASL:

1) Desire

2) Action

That’s it.

If you want my help, I’m be thrilled to give it.

You can start by joining The ASL Academy: LIVE!


Exploring the Deaf World: Their Cool Tech Devices

Ever think to yourself, how in the world do Deaf people manage in today's world?

Ever wonder how they do the normal day-to-day things we take for granted?

You've probably seen me quote Dr. I. King Jordan, "Deaf people can do anything hearing people can do, except hear." You may have seen it in many places.

Almost instantaneously, hearing people scratch their heads and start trying to list all the things they think Deaf people can't do.

I'm not here to slap your hand with a ruler.

I'm not here to call you names for thinking that it can't possibly be true!

I'm here to show you a glimpse into their world and lives and show you that, yes they can do anything (except hear).

Today, let's take a look at the super cool tech devices they use to navigate their day-to-day lives.

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!

Don't 

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

Do

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


Don't

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

Do

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.


Don't 

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

Do

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).


Don't 

"Have you thought about getting ear transplants?"

Do

Think before you speak.  There are no such things.


Don't 

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

Do

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.


Don't 

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

Do

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.


Don't 

"How can you work if you can’t hear?"

Do

Ask them what they do for a living.


Don't 

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

Do

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.


Don't 

Talk to someone else instead of them.

Do

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.


Don't 

"Wow, you don’t look deaf!"

Do

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


Don't 

Take advantage of them.

Do

Treat them as equals.


Don't

"Can you read and write?"

Do

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


Don't

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

Do

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


Don't

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

Do

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


Don't 

Exaggerated gestures and mouth movements or move around.

Do

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


Don't 

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

Do

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.


Don't 

Tell them they’ll be healed if they repent.

Do

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.


Don't

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

Do

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

The Accessibility Mistake You Don't Know You're Making

  Do you know how little people think about ensuring that others have equal accessibility?

It's not that they don't care, they just don't think about it.  I'm also not talking about preferential treatment. I'm talking about equal access.

In the online world the Deaf population is being neglected. Find out what you can do to include the Deaf and Hard of Hearing more and stop making this simple accessibility mistake.

Did you know it's pretty easy to make things more accessible?  It is!

What Mistake Are You Making?

You go and watch a movie, a favorite TV show, a funny clip online and it's an enjoyable experience for you (unless you're watching a stupid movie like A.I.).

Enter a Deaf or Hard of Hearing person.

Now, can you imagine the frustration they must feel?

What is the solution?

It's actually very simple.  I'm going to turn this over to a man that says it best.

 

If you don't watch any other video on this post, please at least watch this one!

I would add to his list of reasons why captioning would be good for you.

  • too much noise in the room (children) and you can't hear your show
  • the show is hard to understand (accents and mumblers)
  • people in other countries can translate the captions into their native language
  • it's better for search ranking (more words for the search bots to read = more keywords)

 

Can you imagine what that would be like?

What Can You Do?

Now, if you know me, I am an action oriented type of person.  I do not like reading "be this and then this will happen."  It always seems to be so ambiguous and unclear.  Be a "good mom" for instance.  Okay.... sure.  But do they tell me how?  Not really.  Well, at least not in any real actionable steps.

What would be the point of me telling you about #captionTHIS if I didn't give you any real thing you could do?

Here it is.

Are you a vlogger?  Add captions to your videos.   Don't stress so much about the old videos you've made, add those as you have time (ha!).

Do you produce podcasts or webinars?  Get them captioned so you can send a recorded version of your slides (webinars) and a transcript to those that want it.  Or get the meeting transcribed live for those watching you.

Ask others to add captions to their videos.  Contact the major companies that do not provide captioning and bring attention to the movement.

Contact your favorite YouTube channels, celebrities, and anyone else you can think of. Thank them for captioning their videos and ask them to join in the movement.  If they do not caption their videos, send them here!  Now they'll know why they should and how to do it.

 

Here's a tweet to use:

Tweet: Add captions to your products. Find out how it can benefit you and your audience.

or

Hey@____, please #captionTHIS: [VIDEO LINK HERE.] Your videos aren't accessible to the Deaf/Hard of Hearing.

How to Add Captions

 

 

I've heard good things about CaptionTube

Synchrimedia is a program you purchase, but it looks pretty awesome.  It will loop 4 seconds of your video while you type it out. When you hit enter it goes to the next 4 seconds and loops it. That's pretty nifty.

But... but... but... there's no way I can transcribe an hour long webinar or 90 minute podcast!  You're right, you may not want to do that.  You probably don't have the training to caption or transcribe so it's going to take you a lot longer to do it, especially if you're a hunt-and-peck-typer.

You can hire a transcriber or captioner for your webinars,  podcasts, and longer videos to type out the transcript for you.  Then they send you the file and you're ready to get it into the video.

.

Okay, I know what you're thinking. Dude, Rochelle, I am small potatoes I do not have the money to do hire out, especially since I don't think there's any Deaf people paying attention to me.

You'd be wrong.  Deaf people don't bust into a blog announcing their Deafness.  Plus, think about how many people that are Deaf and Hard of Hearing who could now come to your site.

There may be a lot of people in your niche, but are there a lot of people that make all of their products and services accessible?

Speaking of.  If you have a service that uses the phone or conference call, you can use VRS services.

You can either call their phone directly (yes, Deaf have phones) and it will be routed through an interpreter who will interpret what they are saying to you and what you say back to them.  You can also contact the individual and they may be able to give you their direct VideoPhone (VP) number.

It really is easy and once you forget the fact that you're talking to an interpreter it's not awkward.

Sum It All Up

Accessibility is something we all could think about.  Adding captions and transcripts is easy to do and is beneficial to many people, including yourself.

I've created a tip sheet for you to help make captioning easier for you!

http://rochellebarlow.com/captioning-tips Click to Download!

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.

SONY DSC

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.

Accessibility

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?"