The official blog of Safari Bill (Dr. William Vicars)-- Lexicographer, protologism developer, enchiridion author, ASL evangelist, and immersion excursion guide.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Teacher tips: Using the latest PPT formats...

Dear ASL Heroes,
Recently a teacher emailed me regarding a "broken" link to a Powerpoint file. So I "fixed" it for her.
To fix it, I didn't really make any "corrections" -- the previous file was fine, and the link was fine. She couldn't access it because her Powerpoint program needs "updating." What I did to "fix" the problem was I simply uploaded a format of the file that is "old" so that people with older Powerpoint programs can open it more easily. The previous file and link worked just fine for those with the latest version of Powerpoint.
Note: It is possible for people to download a patch for older Powerpoint programs that lets them open 2007 versions of Powerpoint files. You can visit and do some searching and find the right download. Doing so could save you a lot of money and still let you open the newer versions of ppt files (the newer versions are ".pptx" files.).
Dr. Bill

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Can you become fluent at ASL by studying online?

Someone recently asked me if it was possible to actually become fluent by just studying online.

In the past I would have said, "Well, you probably can't become fluent without taking actual classes and hanging out with Deaf for many months."

But that was before vlogs and youtube.
These days you can learn enough basic signs from a site like to bootstrap yourself up to basic levels of understanding. Then suppose you were to spend your time watching Deaf vlogs for a few hundred hours? If you started by using captioned vlogs and then branched out from there you could probably get to the point where you could understand basic conversations. After a thousand hours of viewing you might be to the point where you could understand quite a bit of everyday signed communication.
It would be interesting to do an experiment with a prisoner who had access to the net but not to any real live deaf people. Then after several years of watching vlogs give him (or her) a level 5 receptive ASL test.
Any volunteers? Just commit a felony and let me know how it goes.
Dr. Bill

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

In a message dated 11/14 10:24:03 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, a student writes:
Hello Professor Vicars,
My name is Elizabeth O_______.
I am recently diagnosed with Meniere'sDisease/Sudden Hearing Loss. I am enrolled at Brookdale Community Collegein ASL 101 and am working on a 5 minute autobiography. Is there a sign forhearing dog?
Thank you,

To sign "Hearing Dog" you do the sign for "HEARING-(culturally)" and then snap your fingers. It might seem that it would be better to to sign "Hearing Dog" as "HEARING-(sense of hearing)" and then snap the fingers, but that isn't what I see in my area. So, I asked my friend Pam (whom I consider very knowledgeable about "Hearing Dogs" and Deaf dog adoptions) and she said she uses the "HEARING-(culturally)" version and it's the only one she's seen "out there."
--Dr. V

How to improve receptive fingerspelling ability

In a message dated 10/5/2008 5:51:54 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, an ASL student writes:
Dear Dr. Bill,
I am taking an ASL 2 class.
I am concerned because I generally understand signing, but for whatever reason I have a difficult time when someone is finger spelling to me. A lot of the time when someone is finger spelling to me I cannot link the letters together because some people sign words differently or inaccurately. My teacher has probably noticed a confused look on my face on more than one occasion. I have spent quite a bit of time on your web site and I have been practicing with the fingerspelling quizzes and they seem to help.
Do you have any other suggestions?
Thank you!
-Carly _________

Dear Carly,
Here are some links for you: Fingerspelling explanation Fingerspelling Quizzes Fingerspelling Wallpaper: ABC's Font Download
You indicate you've been using my fingerspelling quizzes. Does that include the website?

My suggestions are:
* Download and install one of the fingerspelling wallpapers onto your desktop or laptop computer.
* Download and install the fingerspelling font.
If you ever have to read online material for any of your classes, I encourage you to copy and paste that material into a word processing document and change the font to the Gallaudet fingerspelling font. Increase the font size until you can read it easily. Then read the material as fingerspelling.
* If you need to create flash cards for some other class, use the fingerspelling font to create the flash cards and study from them. That way you will get the benefit of improving your receptive fingerspelling skills as well as studying for your other classes.
* Teach a friend how to fingerspell and then go on a "fingerspelling date." During that date ONLYcommunicate with each other by fingerspelling.
If you've got a few extra bucks, go here: and buy the download version of my "Fingerseek" manual then print some fingerseeks and do them for practice.
* Constantly fingerspell whenever and wherever you are able. Fingerspell your thoughts as you walk from class to class. Fingerspell between bites of food. Fingerspell as you rinse off in the shower. Fingerspell your prayers before going to bed. Fingerspell labels on food items while you shop.
* Most importantly, since you are a Hearing person, make sure you develop the ability to spell words while sounding them out as they would be pronounced in English. Then when you are reading fingerspelling strive to sound out the letters as you read them. Instead of trying to "name" the letters one by one, instead you can pronounce them in your mind and then let your brain "hear" the sounds of the letters and recognize the word that it "heard."
Dr. Bill

Friday, October 03, 2008

temporary post

This next bit is just my personal notes that I typed in-between classes. I will go home and use my notes to improve the curriculum and update Lifeprint.
I'm using this blog as a "very" convenient way and for the most part "secure" way to make notes and transfer them from anywhere. You are welcome to read them...chances are the "notes" wont' be here very long. The Journal entries will though.
-- Dr. Bill

Notes: Level 1 items for unit 1 review:
fix here if what many how-many why need video movie bad good more work outside ("let's see the card") "it is your turn" "you start"

Level 2 items for unit 4 review: fair/equal outside sometimes socks habit clothes dirty summer winter before-now before-event glasses should/must/need/ought-to wind cat washing clothes purple refridgerator

change president weather month finished
snow white vs like

"If you choose to use lip movements while spelling your name, please use the correct pronunciation of your name as a whole rather than individual letters." Spell your name smoothly

D vs F bedroom before-now before-event hearing-person, hearing-aid, hearing going down, travel train vs training=practice

fish vs fishing year year-lazy-version year-last year-(two years ago) battery

life "the use of the word no"
yesterday vs home tomorrow vs girl rain freeze

silly breakfast what-kind first last wish can't step-father

soap put Sunday bug ""E" GET=receive GET="hit me" backpack
Recently I was asked:
"Do you use that new version of FrontPage to build your sites?"

I do use Expresssion Web somewhat. Eventually I'll switch over to it for all of my web work. But I still prefer FrontPage (even though it is a dinosaur) since I'm familiar with the interface and it does a good job of managing most things. I'll probably keep using FrontPage until my host server stops supporting it. Then I'll move on to the newer editing programs.