Running Out of Time

It is a rare day in this modern world when we feel like we actually have some spare time. Many attribute it to the fact that the lines between work and leisure are blurred with the increase in portable technologies that always leave us on call in a way. This can be both a positive and a negative. Sure, it is convenient to have the ability to take care of personal and professional business on the go. On the other hand, you can begin to feel like the hamster on the wheel who just keeps going around and around but never truly stops long enough to take anything in.

For those of us at ASLdeafined, we see how this can both help and hinder your sign language learning. If you have a few minutes to fill you might be inspired to learn a new ASL word or continue your progress with one of our lessons. Then again, you might just want to let your mind rest a minute between other tasks. We see both perspectives and strive to create content that can fit varying needs in this fast-paced world. The main thing we hope you take away from it is a sense of fun and accomplishment.

So you didn’t find the time you thought you would to move forward in your learning this week? Give yourself a break. There is always time to learn something new. Try not to let your goals guilt you into stopping completely. If necessary, just readjust! We are here to support you in any way we can, even if it is just cheering you on when you feel rushed.

For additional reading on How To Find More Time, consider clicking on the title and reading a New York Times opinion piece on the topic.


Follow the Sun

Starting to learn a new skill or revisiting one that is rusty can become overwhelming. Whether you have decided to tap dance, take up the piano, do some woodworking or learn American Sign Language, there are times when you will likely feel stalled.

David Foster Wallace, author of Infinite Jest, wrote an interesting article about reaching plateaus in the learning process. Wallace pulls from a variety of references to share three suggested ways to overcome these inevitable plateaus:

  1. Stick With It
  2. Practice Deliberately
  3. Embrace Discomfort

We appreciated how he shared this thought during the introduction of his piece,

The journey of improvement is not a linear progression where one success builds upon the next. Rather, “you proceed toward mastery through a series of plateaus, so there’s radical improvement up to a certain plateau and then what looks like a stall.”

CLICK HERE if you would like to read the entire article.

At ASLdeafined, we couldn’t agree more! When challenging your mind and body to master a task, perseverance is one of the most important keys to success, but you should expect and forgive yourself during those times when you naturally slow down. Practice is of course known to be of great value, and that is particularly true when working through the sometimes complicated aspects of ASL. Lastly, it is OK to feel uncertain when exploring new territory. Part of an enriching experience is that sense of uneasiness that comes when you take the risk of diving your brain into something new. In fact, we tend to believe that those difficult moments are often when your mind is doing its hardest work!

We are here to remind you that although you may run into some cloudy weather along the way, ASLdeafined exists to support you and help focus your energies on the ever popular pie in the sky… or, in this case, we suggest you set your sights on the sun, take the plunge and join (or reunite) with the unique and talented individuals across the globe that communicate through sign language. We’ll always be here to throw you a life line! Continue reading

Fly the ASL Flag!

We couldn’t agree more with Fellini! Language is a different vision of life – quite literally in the case of sign language. Anyone exposed to the beauty of ASL does not easily forget this unique and vital form of communication. So, our post today is just a friendly reminder that Amercian Sign Language deserves its own respected spot in the wide array of world languages.

Those of us at ASLdeafined sincerely hope you take a moment to appreciate that it is not only an important means of interaction for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and other populations, but in many ways, it is an art form.

Our company strongly believes that everyone has a right to be invited to the conversation! We hope you join us in our effort to build connections through language, and help make the world a more inclusive place… One Sign At A Time.



What’s for lunch today?

How about a side of American Sign Language?

In case you weren’t already aware, ASLdeafined offers an extensive video vocabulary!

If subscribing to one of our lesson packages isn’t quite what you are looking for on the menu today, consider gaining access to our 15,000+ word dictionary for only $6/month! This allows new learners the opportunity to test the ASL buffet, or those who have gotten rusty in their skills the chance to grab a wordy snack to get them back on track. You can also customize your list and replay it as needed to solidify your learning. Our service includes synonyms as well, which can sometimes be challenging in sign language.

We strive to keep things current, so the dictionary is constantly being updated. Subsequently, we encourage you to contact us at [email protected] with any suggestions you have for words you would like to see included. You can also reach us on Twitter, Facebook and Linked by searching ASLdeafined.

We hope you choose a sweet  ASL treat for dessert today.

You’ve made it past Monday, you deserve it! 


The Weekend is on The Way!

The weekend is on the way! Hopefully that means a chance for you to spend some quality time with your family and friends, young and old and in-between. We bet you won’t be surprised if we suggest that you bond over some sign language learning!

It has been said that children tend to learn languages much easier than adults. Perhaps if you and a little one cuddle up to a laptop over the next few days they could teach you to say something new in American Sign Language before things take off again on Monday.

Do you work on weekends? No fear. Take some time for yourself on your break and add interest to the conversations on the job by adding some signs to your repertoire.

Trust us, it will be fun!

A mother and child surf the internet.

Learn something new with a little one this weekend!



Don’t Leave Your Learning Out To Dry…

It is a sunny day in our home base of Metro Detroit, Michigan… a perfect time to let your laundry dry on the line. That said, it is not the best idea to leave your American Sign Language learning out to dry. Just like anylanguage, ASL requires practice, so this is a colorful reminder to do some language laundry and check out today whether you are just starting out, or a seasoned interpreter needing to do a wash.




What is ASLdeafined about?

Education. Communication. Connection. Inclusion.

ASLdeafined was founded on the simple philosophy that learning American Sign Language (ASL) is a rewarding way for people to exercise their brain, improve communication with others, make connections with new people and, most importantly, take another step toward a more inclusive world.

If you have ever seen ASL in action, there is no denying that it is a beautiful language, and like other languages, it deserves our respect and attention.

ASLdeafined has been committed to educating people interested in learning this unique and vital form of communication for 8 years now. Today we are more determined than ever to take things up a notch and better support the variety of populations we serve… the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, ASL programs in K-12 public and private schools, college and university interpreters-in-trainingcompanies or organizations looking to foster a more thoughtful culture – and beyond!

We recognize that every business claims this in their own way, but we hope you know just how sincerely and strongly we feel about improving the lives of our subscribers. ASLdeafined heartily welcomes any individuals interested in learning ASL for any reason. It is just as important to us to provide challenging materials for advanced learners as it is to encourage beginners.

So what are you waiting for? Take advantage of our FREE 3-day trial or dive right in with one of our currently discounted subscriptions. We look forward to seeing what you have to say!

Deaf Culture #13

NTID stands for: National Technical Institute for the Deaf?

True! NTID is located in Rochester, New York, and is one of nine colleges within RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology).  Started in 1967, the school’s mission is to give Deaf and Hard of Hearing students a quality education in technological fields.  According to the website, nearly 1,400 of the 1,529 students enrolled are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, and in the last five years an astonishing 91% of graduates that pursue employment have found a job within a year.

Gallaudet University is located in Washington D.C.?

Gallaudet University is, in fact, located in Washington D.C.  We have previously discussed the history and implementation of Gallaudet, but what it is most known for is the “Deaf President Now” movement.  In 1988 the University found itself in need of a new president.  They began interviewing candidates and narrowed it down to two Deaf men, and one hearing woman who did not know sign language.  In a move that I’m not sure anyone, including those involved, understood, they chose the hearing woman as the president of a Deaf university.  This sparked an intense 3 day protest in which the students chanted “Deaf President NOW!” and blocked access to the university, effectively shutting it down.  After 3 days, the administration relented and selected I. King Jordan, a well-educated Deaf man, to be the next president of the University.

DPN (Deaf President Now) is a moment in history where the whole nation was focused on the Deaf, and their needs.  As a result (and rightly so), DPN is a huge point of pride for the Deaf Community.

NTID is located in Rochester, New York?

True! To be more specific, NTID is located at:

52 Lomb Memorial Drive

Rochester, NY 14623

However, if a road trip is not in your future, you can go to and take a virtual tour of campus.  While you are there, check out their calendar of awesome campus events and schedule your vacation time accordingly.  It will be the perfect way to practice everything that you have learned at!

 Gallaudet University was founded by Edward Miner Gallaudet?

True!  In 1857, Amos Kendall donated the land for Columbia Institute for the Deaf and Blind, and made known his wish for Edward to become it’s leader.  Mr. Gallaudet jumped at the chance and became the school’s first principal.  Gallaudet, however, had bigger plans for the school.  He wanted to see it become a college.  To do this, he appealed to the higher powers, even going so far as to request a bill be signed in to law, which was an unnecessary move.  He was appeased, however, when the president at the time, a Mr. Abraham Lincoln, signed such a bill, giving the authorization for the Columbia Institute to begin awarding college degrees.  Gallaudet remained active in the college, both as President of the University and then later, President of the Board of Directors, until his retirement in 1911.

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet was instrumental in bringing ASL to America?

It may be difficult to understand the motives of Edward Miner Gallaudet without first speaking of his father, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet.

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet dreamed of becoming a preacher.  That was until he met nine-year-old Alice, the deaf daughter of his neighbor, Dr. Mason Cogswell.  Alice befriended Thomas, who began trying to teach her the names of objects by writing in the dirt with a stick.  As you can guess, this effort did not reap the desired outcome.  Alive with new purpose, Thomas abandoned his dreams, as well as the master’s degree that he received at the age of 20 from Yale University, and took off for Europe to study methods for teaching deaf students.  After several dead ends, Thomas was introduced to Abbe Siccard who ran the Institution Nationale des Sourds-Muets a Paris (The National Deaf-Mute Institute of Paris), who in turn introduced him to Laurent Clerc, and Jean Massieu, two of his deaf faculty members.  Thomas, impressed with the advanced education that the two men had obtained by using the manual method, begged Clerc to return to America with him.  Clerc agreed, and on the three month journey home, taught Thomas Sign Language.  Upon his return to America, Thomas took Clerc around the eastern seaboard, campaigning and collecting money to begin their own school.  They succeeded and built a school that would eventually become known as the American School for the Deaf.  The first class consisted of seven students, including, of course, his young friend Alice.


Deaf Culture #10

When talking with a deaf person through an interpreter, always look at the interpreter?

This is false, although it is one of the hardest things for a hearing person to master.  From early childhood we are taught to give our attention to the person who is speaking.  Therefore, it is ingrained in us to look at the interpreter, since they are the ones that are speaking.  In order for the Deaf client to feel like you are listening to them, you need to give them your attention, both when listening and when speaking.  Again, because of the way we in the hearing culture are raised, we tend to direct our questions towards the interpreter.


For Example:

“Would you please ask Mrs. Smith if she has ever had an X-ray?

The correct way to address a deaf person through an interpreter is simply to say:

“Mrs. Smith, have you ever had an X-ray?”

Don’t worry, Deaf and Interpreters alike are used to this being awkward at first.  That is one reason that you will often see the interpreter standing behind and a little to the side of the hearing person.  That serves as a gentle reminder that the interpreter is not actually part of the conversation.

Deaf people tend to feel more comfortable socializing with other deaf people?

This is true.  As humans, we tend to congregate to others that are most like ourselves, in large part, due to language barriers.  Even fluent users find it mentally taxing after a while to translate to and from their native language.  Therefore, it stands to reason that if you can surround yourself with others with the same native language, you will be more comfortable.  Another reason that people of like backgrounds tend to gather is because of past experiences.  Deaf like to socialize with other Deaf because they have a lot in common.  They can talk, vent, and laugh, and know that whomever they are speaking to understands completely.  Much like the fact that people outside of your family may not find the quirkiness of Great Aunt Louisa to be quite as funny as you do.

It is easy to become a sign language interpreter?

This is very, very, false.  It takes a lot of skill and a lot of practice to become an interpreter.  A Sign Language Interpreter needs to be fluent, not only in ASL, but also in English.  In order to interpret, a person must be able to listen to the English, understand the meaning in order to convey the concept, rearrange the sentence structure and add the appropriate facial movements and body language in order to follow the linguistic rules of ASL.  And all of this must be accomplished so that the ASL is almost simultaneous to the English so that the Deaf person does not fall behind in the conversation.  They must also be able to do the opposite and change ASL to English in order to convey the thoughts of their Deaf client.  An Interpreter must also have training that allows them to, know and follow the Interpreter’s role and responsibilities under the Code of Conduct, be able to solve ethical dilemmas,  and know the laws not only governing Interpreters, but also those that involve the deaf community in order to advocate on their behalf.

As you can see, being an interpreter is much more complex than it may seem on the surface.

The term “Deaf” is appropriate?

Absolutely.  As has been previously discussed here, the term “Deaf” refers to an entire community of people and evokes feelings of pride and belonging, much like the terms “American”, “Christian”, or for those enlightened few…”U of M fan”.

All deaf people can read lips well?

This is false.  This too has been previously discussed, but cannot be reiterated enough.  Do not assume that all deaf people excel at reading lips.  One phrase that interpreters often hear is, “Oh, he doesn’t need an interpreter, he can read lips.”  True, some deaf are quite skilled at lip reading, however, it is not an effective form of communication.  No one should be forced to guess and stumble their way through the doctor’s explanation of their upcoming heart surgery, a job interview, or any other important discussion.


Deaf Culture #9

Deaf people should wear contrasting colors in order for people to see their signs?

Not necessarily.  In general, this rule applies to an interpreter, or a Deaf individual that will be giving a presentation to a large crowd.  As you can guess, it is usually easier to see signs with a solid, contrasting background when watching from a distance.  Those times, however, are somewhat rare, and normal clothes are perfectly fine for everyday interactions.

How do people become deaf?

There are lots of ways that a person can become deaf, and the most common ways are illness and injury.  Because neither illness nor injury has any effect on your genetic material, you can imagine that heredity is the least common way for a person to become deaf.  As previously discussed, 90% of deaf children have hearing parents.  The remaining 10% are deaf children that were born to deaf parents, and most are deaf due to a genetic abnormality.  This being the case, there is a fair chance that they will pass their deafness on to their own children.  This type of hereditary deafness is somewhat of a legacy in the Deaf Community.  Those involved in multi-generational deafness are seen as a “dynasty” and regarded as superior.  This hierarchy is much like the “old money” families in the South.

How do people learn American Sign Language? (From other deaf, from a book, from

The easiest, and by far the best way to learn ASL is from, of course!  Learning ASL from other Deaf is also quite effective, and learning ASL from a book is possible, but much more difficult.  ASL is a 3 dimensional language, and it is difficult to get a feel for the movements of the language from the pages of a book.  It is also nearly impossible to start to understand someone else that is signing without seeing them physically use the language.  Learning from other deaf is a wonderful way to learn, as you gain exposure to both the language, and the culture.  However, in our busy day-to-day lives, is the best of both worlds.  It offers the ease and accessibility of a book, as well as the exposure and culture of language interaction.

Text messaging is a popular way to communicate among the deaf?

Text messaging is the single greatest advantage that has come to the Deaf community in recent memory.  Now, with texting being so prevalent, Deaf individuals can do everything from conversing with friends and colleagues, to talking to their child’s teacher, to scheduling a doctor’s appointment.  Video phone is wonderful for a long chat with a friend, or something that cannot be completed via text or in person, but is often inaccessible outside of the home.  This was a distinct disadvantage to the Deaf community until the implementation and widespread use of texting.  Now, members of the Deaf Community are equally as accessible as those in the Hearing Community.

The term, “Deaf and Dumb” is not acceptable?

This is true.  The terms “Deaf and Dumb”, “Deaf-Mute”, or referring to someone as a “Mute” are all unacceptable by today’s standards.  Most people prefer being simply “Deaf”, or depending on their hearing loss, “Hard of Hearing”.  If you have a hard time remembering the correct term, simply ask yourself if you would like to be referred to as “dumb”.  The answer, most likely, is no.