ASLdeafined Weekly Newsletter – Climbing The Avalanche, Chuck Baird, & More!

ASLdeafined Weekly Newsletter – 6/29/2018

What? You’re Starting A Newsletter?

You betcha! Every week the ASLdeafined blog will be highlighting the latest in Deaf news, as well as any and all changes to the ASLdeafined Online Sign Language Curriculum. These newsletters will also contain weekly spotlights featuring renowned Deaf historical figures and events, and “Handshape of the Week” featuring a list of signs that use a specific handshape- a great way to reinforce a somewhat difficult concept when learning sign language. These newsletters can serve as a fantastic supplement for learning about Sign Language and Deaf Culture in your classroom, or just a fun weekly read.


“Climbing the Avalanche” Documentary 

laurene simms, dr. laurene simms, dr. simms, avalanche deaf documentary

Dr. Laurene Simms, via Gallaudet’s Website

Thanks to a new documentary, Deaf People of Color are about to see some solid representation. Dr. Laurene Simms, a professor for the department of Education at Gallaudet University, wanted to educate the world about the oppression that Deaf People of Color face: She tells The Daily Moth in an interview that she new the best method to spread the word was through a documentary. “People remember better. If the movie is simply one or two hours, people still remember it.” She goes on to explain that Deaf people of Color are one of the more oppressed groups and, yet, have very little representation. She also claims that due to a lack of role models for Deaf Children of Color they grow up to join “basic” jobs rather than reaching for the stars: Particularly, there is a noticeable difficulty in recruiting Deaf People of Color as teachers.  She hopes this movie will help children realize their potential and have more faith in themselves and to follow their dreams in theater, education, and more.

Victoria Monroe, a young black activist from Mississippi, is cast as the leading role in this breakthrough documentary. “When she fought back against the system in Mississippi, a lot of people turned their attention to her- she is a black girl from Mississippi especially from the deep south,” Dr. Simms explains. “What she stood for inspired me. So, I wanted to have her as the main role of the documentary film…It is rare to see someone from the deep south stand up against the system. Many People of Color will just go along with the system and stay in the back, but not Victorica, she fought against it in the front. I chose her to be in the spotlight. She has so much experiences and stories of what she went through. There was a lot more that happened, but it is not possible to include all for the documentary film. I only had to choose a few. Victorica is such an amazing person.”

The experiences of Victoria Monroe, as well as those of Sarah A. Young Bear-Brown, Paddy Ladd, Nha Kim can all be found in “Climbing The Avalanche”, now published on ASLized.

Dr. Laurene Simms “Daily Moth” Interview
Climbing The Avalanche on ASLized (YouTube) 


The Deaf Throughout History Spotlight: Chuck Baird, Deaf Artist

Chuck Baird was born deaf and fluent in ASL, receiving an education rich in Sign Language from the Kansas School of the Deaf, Gallaudet University, and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). After graduating from RIT Baird worked with the National Theater of the Deaf as a set-painter, and as Visual Arts Coordinator for a Deaf artist colony in Texas- Spectrum Focus on Deaf Artists. He also worked with Rainbow’s End, an Emmy Award-winning show for Deaf children.

His first exhibition was at Gallaudet University’s Deaf Artists’ Exhibit: World Federation of the Deaf Conference in 1975, and spent his time at Deaf schools teaching and inspiring several long-lasting artworks. Among these fantastic works includes a 150-foot mural at the The Learning Center for Deaf Children in Massachusetts, and a 30′ by 10′ mural at Gallaudet University entitled The Five Panels: Deaf Experiences, which is still on exhibit today and continues to inspire Deaf children to be proud of their identity.

Chuck Baird is arguably known the most for his work in the development of De’Via (Deaf View Image Art), which is an artistic concept that contains messages about deaf life and experiences. This artistic concept does not only include Deaf artists (and not all Deaf artists are included) and must fit a specific criteria including a relation to Deaf experiences, a use of color contrast, centralized focus, and exaggerated facial features. They may also use colors that are quite vibrant and expressive to better accent these concepts.

Here are a few examples of Chuck Baird’s artwork, specifically  the De’Via concept. What do you grasp from these works, particularly the painting “Lessons”?:

chuck baird, fingershell, turtle painting, chuck baird de'via, de'via, deaf art


lessons, chuck baird, braing painting, lessons painting, deaf artists, deaf art, De'via


cat painting, chuck baird, deaf art, deaf artists, de'via

“Cat” from Baird’s Animal Series








Check out Chuck Baird’s Website for more brilliant art.
DeafArt.Org Link


What’s New with ASLdeafined?

Teachers that use ASLdeafined are going to LOVE our latest update: Recently, we added a feature that allows you to see exactly how your students are scoring on their activities. When students are done with all of the activities for a particular lesson, they will receive a check mark. The checkmark color is an indicator how well students did on the activities: If the checkmark is green, this means that the student received 80% or above on all of the activities. A yellow checkmark means that students received less than 80%, but more than 60% on one or more of the activities. A red checkmark indicates that students received below 60% on one or more of the activities for that lesson. This way, when you are checking your students work, you can easily tell how well they did on their retention activities!

Teachers within the ASLdeafined Sign Language curriculum can use this to easily track homework grades and offer assistance to struggling students, or alter their lesson plans and spend more time on certain lessons. You can even take these scores and export them onto a spreadsheet for easy reference!

For new teachers, ASLdeafined is also now offering Webinars! Contact us at the email below for more information.

Have a great idea for ASLdeafined? We LOVE feedback! Email us at to help us improve and keep teaching Sign Language, one sign at a time!


Handshape of the Week – A!

The A-handshape is best described as a closed fist, with your thumb resting resting along your (clenched) index finger, shown to the right. Remember that an “Open A”-handshape is slightly different, and looks like a ‘thumbs-up’. Here is and example of a sign using the A-hanshape, DRAMA:

Other signs that use the A-Handshape Include: