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

Sign of the Day - OUTDOORS

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Avoiding Stereotypes with Gender when Teaching Sign Language

Teaching Tips   |  Wednesday, October 5, 2016

By John Miller

We are constantly posting tips, facts, and learning resources related to sign language and Deaf culture on our Signing Savvy Facebook Page and Twitter @SigningSavvy. Occasionally we get questions about our posts and explain them further with a followup article. This article expands on one of our Parent/Teacher Quick Tip of the Day posts from Facebook, which is also often tied to our Sign of the Day.

Each day I look at Signing Savvy’s Sign of the Day and reflect on what might be a good tip or antidote to share related to that sign or topic. As an educator and administrator, my tips are often geared towards parents and teachers. When the Sign of the Day was BEAUTIFUL, I started thinking about a lesson I once did with my students about different descriptive words.  This lesson simply consisted of an activity where students would take adjectives written on index cards like strong, pretty, colorful, beautiful, smart, kind, interesting and associate them with pictures of people, animals or places.  The students would then have to use them in a complete sentence.

One student in particular was sure that only girls could be beautiful. The discussion led me to teaching a lesson about “girl words” and “boy words” (the student’s title, not mine). It was amazing to me how these young children who couldn’t hear and were just learning the language, had already developed a sense of what was “the norm” as far as words used to describe the different sexes.

Think of how often you hear the word beautiful used for little girls, but very seldom with little boys. Think of how often you hear the word tough or strong used for little boys, yet not for girls. As a father, I can say I want my daughter to be just as strong as she is beautiful, and I want my son to be tough just as much as I want him to have a gentleness about him.

The lesson also led us to discuss the signs for man and woman, and girl and boy etc… and how the location of the signs on the face/head can be thought of as sexist as well. In ASL, masculine roles such as boy, father, uncle and grandfather are located at the top portion of the head, while female roles, (girl, mother, grandmother) are signed at the bottom portion of the face.  This has been pointed out over the years by many as being sexiest and feeds the perception of men being the superior race to women.

It can be interesting yet important to have discussions on gender and to address stereotypes that can be found in sign language as well as life. Be careful as you address your students or children not to fall into this trap. Boys can be beautiful, sweet and kind just the same as girls can be smart and athletic and tough!

Resources

Here are some commercials that tackle gender stereotypes. These are great examples to check out and share with your students (the content of each video varies and would be appropriate for different age groups depending on the age and maturity of your students). Watching a video(s) with your students is a good way to start a lesson and engage a comprehensive discussion on gender stereotypes.

Pantene Advertisement: Labels Against Women

This video is great to make students think about language and how words and labels are sometimes unfairly assigned based on gender. (Caption Note: There are no captions in this video, however, there is no talking in it, only written messages and background music.)

Always Commercial: Like a Girl

This video makes you think about the meaning behind sayings and how they can create unhealthy gender stereotypes. (Caption Note: Remember to turn the captions on for this video.)

Verizon Commercial: Inspire Her Mind

This video focuses on the words adults use when talking to girls and the messages they send. The video says instead of just telling a girl she is pretty, “Isn’t it time we told her she’s pretty brilliant too.” (Caption Note: Remember to turn the captions on for this video.)

Time Magazine: One Login Campaign: #ILookLikeAnEngineer

This Time Magazine article: Female Engineers Are Using the Hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer To Tear Down Gender Stereotypes talks about a campaign that aims to redefine “what an engineer should look like.”

These videos would all be great resources to start discussions in your classroom about gender stereotypes. Good Luck! 
 

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Living Loud: Charles Jules Henry Nicolle - First Deaf Nobel Award Recipient

Deaf Culture   |  Wednesday, September 28, 2016

By Marta Belsky

This article is by Marta Belsky. Marta is a third generation ASL user. She has been teaching ASL for 30 years and enjoys sharing her native language with new users.

Charles Jules Henry Nicolle was the first deaf Nobel Prize recipient. The Nobel Prize is awarded annually in Stockholm, Sweden and is widely regarded as the most prestigious award available in the fields of literature, medicine, physics, chemistry, peace, and economics. Nicolle received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1928.

Charles Nicolle
Charles Nicolle at his microscope - the most famous photo of him. (Photo Credit: Henri Roussel [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Charles Nicolle was born hearing, in Rouen, France, on September 21, 1866. His father was a physician, and so, in spite of a wide range of interests including history, literature, and philosophy, he followed his father’s footsteps and also became a doctor. His choice became a challenge as he experienced a progressive hearing loss, and by the age of 20 was deaf.

Nicolle became the Director of Pasteur Institute in Tunis, Tunisia in 1902. North Africa was a good place to study infectious diseases, including brucellosis, diphtheria, leprosy, malaria, measles, Mediterranean spotted fever, relapsing fever, scarlet fever, tuberculosis, and typhus.

Typhus had been highly communicable and a frequently fatal disease. It devastated armies during wars and prisoners living under unsanitary conditions, it affected displaced populations suffering from famine, floods, and other natural disasters, and in general, it was a disease of poverty. Dr. Nicolle studied this disease for seven years, and discovered that lice were responsible for transmitting the disease. The discovery came about after he observed typhus patients spread the disease to others both inside and outside of the hospital, even their clothes seemed to spread the disease. The patients were no longer infectious after they had a hot bath and clean clothes. Controlling and eliminating lice meant controlling and eliminating typhus. For this life-saving discovery, Dr. Nicolle won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1928.

"The disclosure of a new fact, the leap forward, the conquest over yesterday’s ignorance, is an act not of reason but of imagination, of intuition."

  - Charles Nicolle

Nicolle died in 1936 at the age of 69 in Tunis, where he was still a bacteriologist and Director of the Pasteur Institute. Both of his two sons, Marcelle and Pierre, followed in his footsteps and became well-known physicians. Nicolle has been honored on postage stamps in France, Tunis, and Guyana. He forever changed biomedical science and his discoveries helped to save millions of lives.

Charles Nicolle Postage Stamps
Charles Nicolle Postage Stamps from France, Tunisia (1952), and Guyana.
(Photo Credits: The Postage Stamp Collection Modern Medicine Foundations, Truman G. Blocker, Jr. History of Medicine Collections, Moody Medical Library, UTMB Health, Nobel Stamps)

Resources

  1. Schultz, M. and Morens, D. (2009, September). Charles-Jules-Henri Nicolle. Emerging Infectious Disease, 15(9). Retrieved 8/16/2016 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2819868/
  2. Charles Nicolle. Wikipedia. Retrieved 8/16/2016 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Nicolle
  3. Nobel Prize. Wikipedia. Retrieved 8/16/2016 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobel_Prize

 

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About the Author

Marta Belsky Marta Belsky is a third generation ASL user. She has been teaching ASL for 30 years and enjoys sharing her native language with new users. Marta is on the Lansing Community College Interpreter Training Program Advisory Board and has also been a board member for the Michigan Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and the Michigan Chapter of American Sign Language Teachers Association.

More about Marta  |  Articles by Marta

Practice American Sign Language (ASL) With an ASL Expert Through Video Chat

Practice American Sign Language (ASL) With an ASL Expert Through Video Chat

Site News   |  Monday, September 19, 2016

By Jillian Winn

We’re excited to announce that we are launching a new service where you can practice American Sign Language (ASL) with an ASL expert through video chat. We are calling this new service Savvy Chat. All chats are one-on-one 30 minute sessions using video conferencing software online. You can practice your receptive and expressive ASL skills and/or get help with a specific aspect of ASL. 
To use Savvy Chat, you will need a webcam, high speed internet, and a device that will allow you to download and install the Zoom video conferencing software (you can use a Windows or Mac OS X computer, iPhone, or Android device). 
We are starting with a limited number of spots for roll out of Savvy Chat to see if there is interest in this service.

Schedule a time for a Savvy Chat before they all fill up!

If a lot of people are interested in Savvy Chat, we will add more availability in the future.

 

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Deaf Awareness Week 2016

Deaf Culture   |  Sunday, September 18, 2016

By Jillian Winn

Deaf Awareness Week this year is September 19-25, 2016. Deaf Awareness Week, also called International Week of the Deaf (IWD), is celebrated annually and ends with International Day of the Deaf on the last Sunday of September. Deaf Awareness Week is celebrated by national and regional associations of the deaf, local communities, and individuals worldwide.

The purpose of Deaf Awareness Week is to increase public awareness of deaf issues, people, and culture.  Activities and events throughout Deaf Awareness Week encourage individuals to come together as a community for both educational events and celebrations. Find more information on Deaf Awareness Week.

2016 Theme: With sign language, I am equal

Since 2009, the World Federation of the Deaf has created themes for International Week of the Deaf. The theme for 2016 is “With Sign Language, I am Equal.” Find out more about the 2016 International Week of the Deaf on the World Federation of the Deaf website and download their campaign materials.

You can also spread the message using the hashtags: #InternationalWeekOftheDeaf2016 #WithSignLanguageIAmEqual #IWD2016

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Signs That Are Close... But Not the Same - Set 2

Signs That Are Close... But Not the Same - Set 2

Learning Tips   |  Tuesday, September 13, 2016

By Brenda Cartwright

This article is by Brenda Cartwright. Brenda is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, and well known presenter. Brenda is the 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 BC" interpreter questions.

This article is part of our “Signs That Are Close... But Not the Same” series, which highlights signs that look similar, but have different meanings.

Hello! Brenda Cartwright (BC) here. Let's continue on the fun topic of: “Signs That Are Close... But Not the Same.”

The ASL signs shown below look similar, but are not the same. There are many ASL signs that when produced look similar, but in fact have a completely different meaning. Below you will find examples of such signs. Watch closely to see if you can see the difference. In addition, watch my eyebrows, look to see when I tilt my head or lean my body in a certain way, even what my mouth is doing. These nuances are called inflections and trust me, inflections matter. Enjoy!

1. Please vs. Enjoy

Both PLEASE and ENJOY have the dominate open flat hand make a circle over the chest, ENJOY also has the non-dominate hand circling over the stomach at the same time. To remember PLEASE, think of when something is pleasing it warms your heart. Think of all the different kinds of food you enjoy to remember ENJOY also circles over the stomach.

Please
Enjoy

2. Hot vs. Yell

HOT and YELL look similar, but HOT moves down from the mouth like you are forcefully pushing something hot away from your mouth and dropping it, while the gesture made when signing YELL indicates something loud is coming out of your mouth and going up into the air for everyone to hear.

Hot
Yell

3. Brown vs. Beer

BROWN and BEER both use the B-hand moving downward on the face. You can remember BEER slides down the side of the mouth with a repeated motion by thinking of spilling a little bit as you drink and wiping it with your hand (and wiping again to make sure you got it all).

Brown
Beer

4. Food vs. Eat a lot

FOOD and EAT use the same sign - the dominant modified O-hand (also called AND-hand) make repeated movements to the mouth, symbolizing bringing food to the mouth as you eat it. EAT A LOT uses an exaggerated repeated motion because when you EAT A LOT you eat and eat (and eat!). EAT A LOT can also be signed with two hands.

Food
Eat a lot

5. Read vs. Dance

READ and DANCE both use dominant V-hands and non-dominant open palms. However, they are easy to remember because the gestures represent reading and dancing. When signing READ the V-hand represents eyes moving down the page (the open palm) while reading. When signing DANCE the V-hand represents legs dancing on a dance floor (the open palm).

Read
Dance

These examples are aligned with the Visual Discrimination section of Lesson 5 (page 60) from Lessons and Activities in American Sign Language by Brenda E. Cartwright and Suellen J. Bahleda. Check out the book for more ASL Activities and watch for more examples from this series: “Signs That Are Close... But Not the Same.”

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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.

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