An ASL Dictionary

Signing Savvy is a sign language dictionary containing several thousand high resolution videos of American Sign Language (ASL) signs, fingerspelled words, and other common signs used within the United States and Canada.

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Signing Savvy is an ideal resource to use while you learn sign language. It includes the ability to view large sign videos, build your own word lists and share them with others, create virtual flash cards and quizzes, print signs, build sign phrases, ...and more

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5 Tips for Job Hunting as an Interpreter

5 Tips for Job Hunting as an Interpreter

Interpreter Tips   |  Tuesday, July 22, 2014

By Brenda Cartwright

This article is by Brenda Cartwright. Brenda is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, and well known presenter. Brenda is the "Dear Abby" for the interpreting world - author of the Dear Reality column in the VIEWS publication from Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and the book Encounters With Reality: 1001 Interpreter Scenarios. She will be contributing blog articles for Signing Savvy on interpreting, Deaf culture, and answering a series of "Dear Brenda" interpreter questions.

Today applications for new jobs are increasingly offered exclusively via websites. With social media and our entire lives online most employers know quite a bit about you, including your reputation and writing skills, before they ever meet you face to face.  References have also become more important as references are sometimes the first people that interviewers speak to. 

Are you representing yourself well? How do you decide who to ask for a reference?

Here are 5 tips for laying the foundation for your job hunting and finding a good recommender:

1. Connect with Others

  • First impressions matter. Put your best foot forward.
  • Be personable and establish bonds with colleagues.

2. Represent Yourself Well Online

  • Who you are online reflects how people see you in person.
  • Don’t put anything on FB you aren’t proud of.
  • Go through your Facebook and delete anything (pictures and words) that gives you pause.

3. Send Professional Messages

  • Keep emails professional and purposeful.
  • Put thought into each email you send.
  • Re-read your emails before hitting “send.”

4. Choose a Good Recommender

  • Be realistic in assessing your relationships.
  • Choose people you respect and who respect you.
  • Be sure the person you ask has a good reputation themselves.

5. Communicate with your Recommender

  • Contact your references before you put them down.
  • Be positive, respectful and grateful to the person writing you a letter of recommendation. 

Do you have other pointers? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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About the Author

Brenda CartwrightBrenda Cartwright is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, well known presenter, and author of several best selling sign language and interpreting textbooks from the RID Press. For the last 30 years Brenda has been the Chair of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan.

More about Brenda  |  Articles by Brenda

Using a Swiss Cheese Folder to Plug Holes in Education

Using a Swiss Cheese Folder to Plug Holes in Education

Teaching Tips   |  Monday, July 14, 2014

By John Miller

Being an educator of deaf children for over twenty years, I know the frustrations that occur when you are working with a student and continue to find gaps in their understanding of certain concepts. It’s shocking to find out that your second grader doesn’t know something like their middle name or their address. It’s easy to say to yourself, “Why didn’t the parents or the teachers before me teach this child this information?”  

Instead of pointing fingers, there is a simple way to keep track of these gaps - it's what I call a “Swiss Cheese Folder.” Anyone that interacts with the student can document information gaps and record them in one easily accessed folder.  The teacher or parents then help provide the information to fill in these information gaps, then ANYONE (teachers, parents, interpreters, therapists, social workers, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, grandparents and families) who has interactions with the student can open up the folder during their time with the students and help “fill in the holes in the Swiss Cheese.” Much of the information isn’t hard to learn once the child understands what the concepts are about, and often times many students are struggling with some of the same concepts.

Some very common things found in some student’s Swiss Cheese folder:

  1. Full Name
  2. Birthday
  3. Address
  4. Telephone Number
  5. Family Member’s Names
  6. Pet’s Names
  7. Days of the Week
  8. Months of the Year
  9. How many minutes in an hour?
  10. How many days in a year?
  11. How many items in a dozen?
  12. Telling Time
  13. Seasons
  14. Weather
  15. Colors
  16. Shapes
  17. Numbers
  18. Letter identification and matching upper and lower cases
  19. Emergency Information
  20. Answering questions about favorites…(what it means to have a favorite color, food, sport etc…)

These are also great topics that parents can work with their kids on over the summer.

When people work together, good things happen. “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Do you have other ideas of topics that would be good for a "Swiss Cheese" folder? Share your ideas in the comments below.

 

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Interpreter Q & A: How to Handle Rude Clients

Interpreter Q & A: How to Handle Rude Clients

Interpreter Tips   |  Monday, July 7, 2014

By Brenda Cartwright

This article is by Brenda Cartwright. Brenda is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, and well known presenter. Brenda is the "Dear Abby" for the interpreting world - author of the Dear Reality column in the VIEWS publication from Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and the book Encounters With Reality: 1001 Interpreter Scenarios. She will be contributing blog articles for Signing Savvy on interpreting, Deaf culture, and answering a series of "Dear Brenda" interpreter questions.

Dear Brenda,

In the post-secondary setting where I interpret, one particular Deaf student frankly doesn’t have much in the way of social skills. She is just plain mean to everyone and it’s uncomfortable and embarrassing to be around her. She’s either rude or inappropriate or both. Her hearing classmates, upon meeting their first real live Deaf person, try to be friendly, but, more often than not, walk away completely turned off. Please don’t tell me to just not take assignments where she is the client; as a staff interpreter, we don’t always have that choice. She knows she’s a "challenge." I suspect she gets off on it!

Signed,
Wit's End

An Experienced Interpreter's Perspective:

Maybe your experience relates to cultural differences and the fact that some things hearing people might label rude, Deaf people might attribute to the fact that they are "Deaf blunt." As interpreters we do not regulate anyone’s behavior, and it can be difficult with students, both Deaf and hearing. Offering Deaf awareness activities on campus might be one way to develop understanding between hearing and Deaf students and give them a different arena to socialize. Also, all students (Deaf and hearing) need to learn the ropes of interacting in a university setting, and I think we as interpreters need to take a hands off approach on this one.

Experienced Deaf Consumer's Perspective:

It is hard to determine whether the student in this situation is in fact having a "true" social skill problem or if there is some misunderstanding about what is "culturally" acceptable. Sometimes as a Deaf person, it is hard to "park your culture at the door" and behave in ways that are considered acceptable to our hearing peers. For example, it has been my experience that it is not socially acceptable to interrupt people without letting them finish, but it’s not always clear to me when I can and can’t by watching the interpreter. Appropriate registers are not always there for me to be cued correctly and after years of "jumping in" and cutting people off, I thought this was the way to get your point across or make yourself heard. Of course, later I learned to trust the interpreter or professor that I would have a chance to participate. Without knowing more specifics, I assume the "rudeness" or "inappropriateness" is more of a lack of subtleness between the two cultures. For example, hearing people equate being blunt with being rude, whereas Deaf people consider it being honest or direct. Without more specific information, I would not be so quick to say it’s the student’s problem, but to look at the situation as a whole and to determine what exactly is causing this perception.

Have you experienced this problem too? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
 

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About the Author

Brenda CartwrightBrenda Cartwright is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, well known presenter, and author of several best selling sign language and interpreting textbooks from the RID Press. For the last 30 years Brenda has been the Chair of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan.

More about Brenda  |  Articles by Brenda

5 Ways for Kids to Communicate Easier with Sign Language This Summer

5 Ways for Kids to Communicate Easier with Sign Language This Summer

Learning Tips   |  Monday, June 30, 2014

By John Miller

Summer is HERE!  For most children this means a break from school and fun in the sun with long summer days playing with friends.  Unfortunately, for many deaf and hard of hearing children, these weeks away from school can mean days without good communication. They will still have great summer days of play with friends and picnics with family, but often times communicating at home can be more of a struggle than at school – signing skills may not be as good at home and neighborhood children do their best, but just don’t have the knowledge or vocabulary to be very effective.

These situations happen all too often, leaving deaf children to fill in lots of blanks and they are not always able to get the whole picture.  Luckily, there are some proactive things that you can do to better prepare your deaf child and their friends for communicating this summer. 

Here are 5 ways for kids to communicate easier with sign language this summer:

  • Talk to the neighborhood kids, ask them what they plan to do ahead of time so you can go over rules to games, or describe some of the activities to your child before sending them off to play for the day. 
  • Share some of the quick survival signs with your child’s playmates so that they can do some very basic communication.
  • Introduce signing as something fun and interesting - a “secret” way to communicate in public, something that sets them apart from others in a positive way.
  • Create some standard Signing Savvy word lists and email the links to family and friends so they can easily pick up some new vocabulary and common signs that you use.
  • Encourage your child to play “teacher” and to pick a new sign of of the day everyday to use regularly and teach others. If they are already a good signer, it may be a sign they use often or a sign they really want others to learn to use. If they are still learning to sign, encourage them to pick a new sign to learn and use for the day (they can search for a sign on Signing Savvy). This will gradually introduce neighbors, friends, family, and the child to more vocabulary throughout the summer. Sign language is a beautiful language that the child can share with others and teaching others is the best way to learn and remember new signs.

Summer is a time to really enjoy the days with your child.  Give them exciting and interesting experiences that they can learn from and remember forever.  The only way a deaf child is able to properly remember things is to categorize their experiences into memories.  Strong communication is an important part of this process.

Do you have other suggestions on how to improve communication over the summer? Share your ideas in the comments below.

 

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Interpreter Q & A: Is It Better to Be Late or Wet?

Interpreter Q & A: Is It Better to Be Late or Wet?

Interpreter Tips   |  Monday, June 9, 2014

By Brenda Cartwright

This article is by Brenda Cartwright. Brenda is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, and well known presenter. Brenda is the "Dear Abby" for the interpreting world - author of the Dear Reality column in the VIEWS publication from Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and the book Encounters With Reality: 1001 Interpreter Scenarios. She will be contributing blog articles for Signing Savvy on interpreting, Deaf culture, and answering a series of "Dear Brenda" interpreter questions.

Dear Brenda,

Which is better in your opinion — to be a few minutes late for an interpreting job when it is pouring rain or to show up on time, but soaking wet?

Thanks,
Hoping Not To Be Late & Wet

An Experienced Interpreter's Perspective:

If you arrive late (but dry) the consumers may be inconvenienced, annoyed, frustrated, anxious, etc. However, an appropriate business-like explanation/apology should soon set this matter aside and allow everyone to concentrate on the business at hand.

I suspect the consequences will be more serious if you arrive drenched, but on time. Although you are “on time” by the clock, you may not be ready to do the job. At least from my experience, it is difficult to concentrate on the interpreting task while dressed in uncomfortable, wet, clingy clothing and sodden shoes. Those are not conditions conducive to producing your best work. Secondly, imagine the effect on consumers as they try to concentrate on the business at hand and their communication goals, while trying to ignore the squishing sounds as you move around, the fine mist spraying off your fingertips, and the ever widening puddle on the floor beneath you (and these distractions will continue for the duration of the assignment!).

After the assignment is the appropriate time to consider what reasonable alternatives might have prevented your dilemma. You might want to stop by a store on the way home and purchase appropriate rain gear and an umbrella to keep in your car and/or interpreter’s tote.

Experienced Deaf Consumer's Perspective:

Interpreters must make judicious safety-related decisions.

If the interpreter is on a college campus, he or she can wait for a few minutes until the pouring rain has subsided, even though they should have an umbrella. As soon as you get to the classroom you can privately tell the Deaf student(s) succinctly the reason for being late.

If it is to interpret for a doctor’s appointment or a lawyer meeting, it would be best for the interpreter to call and let the parties know that you will be a little late due to the heavy downpour.

In other words, it is wise to be late for an appointment as long as the parties involved (both hearing and Deaf) know that you are on the way. Coming into the appointment soaking wet may not only reflect badly on the interpreter, but it may also reflect badly on the Deaf consumer. Again, the interpreter’s safety is the key to making sure that the communication process will work, no matter how late the interpreter arrives to the appointment.

Have you experienced this problem too? How did you handle it or prevent it from happening again? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
 
 

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About the Author

Brenda CartwrightBrenda Cartwright is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, well known presenter, and author of several best selling sign language and interpreting textbooks from the RID Press. For the last 30 years Brenda has been the Chair of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan.

More about Brenda  |  Articles by Brenda

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