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.

And Much More!

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 - CAMP

Deaf American Jazz Singer and Songwriter Chooses to “Try” After Hearing Loss

Deaf Culture   |  Saturday, June 10, 2017

By Jillian Winn

Mandy Harvey starting singing when she was four. She sang in choral groups and music competitions in high school and she was recognized as the "Top Female Vocalist" at Longmont High School when she graduated in 2006. Mandy was then one of only fifteen students accepted as a vocal major into Colorado State University. However, Mandy suffered from reoccurring hearing problems and during her freshman year in college she lost hearing (110 decibels) in both ears. Doctors believe her hearing loss was caused by a genetic connective tissue disorder exacerbated by medications used during knee surgeries.

After her hearing loss, Mandy was discouraged and left Colorado State University to take a break from singing and return home to Longmont, Colorado. She started taking classes at the local community college in American Sign Language and Elementary Education. Although she stopped singing, she continued to play the guitar with her father. Encouraged by her father, she began to work on learning the lyrics to "Come Home" by OneRepublic. She discovered she was able to read the music and sing in key, which motivated her to not give up on signing.

A visit with one of her former college music professors in 2008 also helped revive her music passion and got her connected to the jazz scene at Jay’s Bistro in Fort Collins and she began performing there regularly for several years. She then began having regular concerts at the Dazzle Jazz Lounge in Denver (one of the top 100 Jazz venues in the world). In 2011, Mandy won the VSA’s International Young Soloist Award and has performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. several times.

Mandy is an ambassador with the non-profit No Barriers, an organization that helps individuals with disabilities and wounded veterans overcome the obstacles they face in their day to day lives. She wrote the song Try because "After I lost my hearing, I gave up. But I want to do more with my life than just give up.” Watch this video of Mandy auditioning for the T.V. show America’s Got Talent and singing her song Try.

Video Transcript

Note: Captions are available on the video (click the CC button), but they aren’t entirely accurate. For example, they say "death" instead of "deaf" and "beach" instead of "beat." We are unable to change the captions since the video was published by American’s Got Talent, but we have contacted them with this feedback and included a transcript of the video below.

COWELL: Hello.

HARVEY: Hi! How are you?

COWELL: And what’s your name?

HARVEY: Mandy Harvey

COWELL: And who’s this?

HARVEY: My Interpreter

COWELL: What’s your name?

SARAH: Sarah

COWELL: Nice to meet you Sarah.

SARAH: Nice to meet you sir, doing well thank you.

KLUM: Hi Sarah.

SARAH: Hello.

COWELL: Ok Mandy, so I think I’ve worked this out. So you’re deaf?

HARVEY: Yes, I lost all my hearing when I was 18 years old.

COWELL: Wow, and how old are you now?

HARVEY: 29, so it’s 10 years.

COWELL: Wow

COWELL: And Mandy, how did you lose your hearing, if you don’t mind me asking?

HARVEY: I have a connective tissue disorder, so basically I got sick and my nerves deteriorated.

COWELL: So you were signing before you lost your hearing?

HARVEY: Yeah, I’ve been singing since I was 4. So I left music after I lost my hearing and then figured out how to get back into singing with muscle memory, using visual tuners, and trusting my pitch.

MANDEL: So your shoes are off because you are feeling the vibration. Is that how you’re following the music?

HARVEY: Yeah, I’m feeling the tempo, the beat, through the floor.

COWELL: And Mandy, what are you going to sing?

HARVEY: I’m going to sing a song I wrote called Try.

COWELL: Okay, can you tell me what it’s about?

HARVEY: After I lost my hearing, I gave up. But I want to do more with my life than just give up.

COWELL: Good for you.

HARVEY: Thank you.

COWELL: Good for you. Well look, this is your moment, and good luck.

HARVEY: Ok

[Clapping]

[Music]

Mandy Harvey singing:

I don’t feel the way I used to
The sky is grey much more than it is blue
But I know one day I'll get through
And I'll take my place again

If I would try, if I would try

There is no one for me to blame
cause I know the only thing in my way
Is Me

I don't live the way I want to
That whole picture never came into view
But I'm tired of getting used to
The day

So I will try, so I will try,

If I would try, if I would try

[Clapping]

COWELL: Mandy, I don’t think you’re going to need a translator for this…

[Cheering, Clapping]

BROWN: Wow

COWELL: Hey, you sing incredible. I mean, I’ve done this a long time, that was one of the most amazing things that I’ve ever seen and heard.

HARVEY: Thank you so much.

COWELL: That was amazing. Amazing.

MR. HARVEY: Thank you.

COWELL: Congratulations.

COWELL: Honestly, I never think I’m going to be surprised or amazed by people, and then you turn up. I mean, just the fact that you are you, but it was your voice, your tone. The song was beautiful. Congratulations you are straight through to the live show.

COWELL: Mandy, you know what, we found each other.

HARVEY: Yes.

[Music]

[Applause]

Bravo Mandy! We’re glad you decided to "Try," so we could see your love and passion for music!

Resources

  1. America’s Got Talent. (2017, June 6). Mandy Harvey: Deaf Singer Earns Simon's Golden Buzzer With Original Song - America's Got Talent 2017. Retrieved 6/9/2017 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKSWXzAnVe0
  2. Mandy Harvey. (n.d.) Wikipedia. Retrieved 6/9/2017 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandy_Harvey
  3. No Barriers. (n.d.). Mandy Harvey. Retrieved 6/9/2017 from http://www.nobarriersusa.org/people/mandy-harvey/

 

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5 Tips for Overwhelmed Parents of Deaf Children

5 Tips for Overwhelmed Parents of Deaf Children

Learning Tips   |  Tuesday, May 16, 2017

By John Miller

Overwhelmed… The look on the faces, or the words that came out of the mouths of almost every parent of a deaf child I’ve ever met with during a home visit. The first thing I want to say is, “Move over because you aren’t alone on that bench,” and secondly, “Stop feeling guilty about anything and everything and lets make a commitment and move forward now, looking in the rearview mirror is only good to learn from, NOT to see your future.”

Many parents seem to carry this tremendous amount of guilt about the way things are going with their parenting of their deaf child. They know that it’s a bit of a different “play book” than with their hearing children, and the fact that their deaf child’s native language isn’t even their own, causes great confusion and frustration. The fact that they have to now adapt into this whole new culture and community in order to gain a greater understanding of their deaf child’s identity can be very… overwhelming!

My first suggestion is to acquaint yourself with someone who has a good (nonbiased) understanding and connections with the Deaf Community in your area (if there is one). Contacting the school systems and the interpreting population or County offices can be a helpful resource to begin.

There are so many slippery slopes that hearing parents of newly identified deaf children can encounter. I once had a mother come into my classroom in tears because she referred to her daughter as “hearing impaired” in a setting that included many people from the Deaf Community and she was pretty much attacked by them and had no idea why. I had to explain to her that although both the medical and educational systems have used that terminology, it is NOT the accepted, preferred terminology of the Deaf Community and she needs to avoid the use of the word “impaired” if she wants to be on good terms with the community. Instead of using the term "hearing impaired," simply say "deaf" or "hard of hearing." 

I had another set of hearing parents mortified at a suggestion that was said to them – it was said to them that because their child was deaf, they should give them up for adoption to a deaf family so that they could be “properly raised in a home where sign is their first language.” I had to explain to them also that although that is pretty extreme, it shows how strongly some deaf people feel about the idea of proper communication and the use of sign language, and also the years of ignorance on the part of the hearing community that shaped the landscape. It is then that I recommend the book Deaf Heritage: A Narrative History of Deaf America by Jack Gannon. This book has been around for a long time, yet gives a pretty clear explanation of Deaf history and why some of these strong feelings still exist today.

I guess the idea I like to get across to parents at this point is this: If you commit to communication with your deaf child that includes sign language as their primary mode of communication, then commit to learning it yourself! No, it’s probably not going to be easy, but what part of parenting is? Here are some tips that can help:

1. Learn sign langauge along with them.

  • Learning sign language as your child is learning it is helpful and, if possible, it is even better if you can keep yourself a few steps ahead of them. This can be easier when your child is very young and just learning to communicate. If your child is older, although it’s going to be more challenging, it’s never too late! Try to learn sign language as they are learning it, even if you aren’t able to keep up with their pace of learning.

2. Tackle things in logical chunks.

  • Starting off, the goal isn’t to know arbitrary vocabulary for a test, or even to be fluent (that’s something to work towards). You just want to be able to communicate with your child, so focusing on the vocabulary you need to do that is what is most important.
  • Start with experiences you share together and work from there.
  • Think about your interactions with them, the language and vocabulary that would be involved in those daily interactions.
  • Create Signing Savvy word lists that focus on key vocabulary and then review those lists and use the digital flash cards and quizzing features to help you become familiar with the vocabulary. 

3. Practice, practice, practice.

  • Sign with your child. You can't learn if you don't try.
  • Along with using word lists to customize vocabulary you want to learn, use of the Signing Savvy Member App on your smart phone to look up signs you don't know while you're on the go. Using the App will allow you to become more fluent.
  • Watch our videos of ASL glosses to see full sentences and phrases signed and to start to get more comforable with ASL syntex.

4. Reach out for help.

  • There are people and programs to help. It takes time and a little research to figure out who the local people and what the local programs are, but it can be worth the investment of effort.
  • The IDEA federal law requires every state to have programs for children with delayed development (such as delayed language development) for both infants and toddlers (birth to 3 years old) and children and youth (3 to 21 years old).
  • Contacting the school systems and the interpreting population or County offices can be a helpful resource to begin.
  • Stay in touch with any teachers, interpreters, or other aides or specialists that work with your child so you can stay in the loop and on the same page. Not only is it helpful to get updates and feedback from these people that work with your child, but communicating about what’s going on at home with them can also help form a better plan to meet their needs.
  • If possible, acquaint yourself with someone who has a good (non-biased) understanding and connections with the Deaf Community in your area (if there is one).

5. Create a support system.

  • In addition to reaching out for help to people who can work with your child (or already do), capitalize on your close social network to create a support system. Encourage others to learn sign language and to use it to communicate with your child, especially close family and friends that are a regular part of you and your child’s life.
  • You can share the Signing Savvy word lists you have already created with family and friends to help them get started with basic vocabulary (they do not need to be Signing Savvy members to view your lists).
  • You can also create special word lists tailored for people like babysitters or substitute teachers, or for specific events, like Thanksgiving dinner and share that list with everyone that will be coming. Sharing word lists gives people an actionable way to learn some vocabulary and, more importantly, is a reminder that communicating with your child is important and that one of the best ways they can help is to support language learning and the use of sign language.

I can guarantee your child will appreciate the effort and the ability to communicate with their parents. Stick with it, nothing happens overnight. You can’t just try it out and then back out. It’s something that has to be worked on and added to daily. The learning never ends, but the rewards can be great!

Books Recommended In This Article

 

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