Sunday, February 26, 2006

ASL Books In Bargain Bins.

In bookstores, I like to check out the foreign language area every now and then to see what's the latest book on American Sign Language (ASL). Yesterday at the mall in B. Dalton's, I didn't have to look far for ASL books...2 different ASL books were in the bargain books area right in the front of the bookstore. Granted, the bargain bin is bad news for the book because it won't be restocked, but HEY, it gets great exposure for ASL and people do love buying bargain books.

A light bulb went off above my head's the idea - if you love ASL as much as I do and want to give ASL more exposure and have people to buy ASL books. Before you leave the bookstore, take 2 or 3 ASL books and place them in the bargain bins. Do this every time you visit a bookstore and you would be giving ASL greater exposure and have people buying them whether they're really not being sold at bargain prices. Haha. How about it?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Fargo as in Fargo, North Dakota has an article in their front page newspaper yesterday titled 'Sign language interpreting a rare profession in N.D.' by Teri Finneman in the Forum. Please click on the article before reading ahead.

Fargo is the largest city in North Dakota and the Forum is the largest newspaper in the state along with several hundred thousand of readers in northern Minnesota. The article was a great expose on our problem of having a shortage of interpreters however it has missed out on giving us a solution.

I called Teri earlier today to compliment her on her writing and giving us a voice on the interpreting shortage then I asked to offer my solution to this interpreting shortage as I've presented on this blog in the past. She appreciated the compliment and was open to anything I had to say.

I told her that it truly was unfortunate to hear that only ONE college in the state of North Dakota to offer a interpreting program. One person in the article commented that the shortage of interpreters is due to the lack of knowledge of the career. I told Teri that this is smaller of the two problems. I told her that the bigger problem is that American Sign Language (ASL) is not being exposed out there in North Dakota.

ASL should be offered in as many K to 12 schools across North Dakota. Then in the outcome of students taking this class, they can make an informed decision whether to make a career out of ASL such as teaching, counseling, interpreting, and et cetera. One problem...North Dakota's Department of Education (DOE) does not have ASL in their curriculum as a foreign language for K to 12. They only have it for post-secondary school which means community college, college, or university may only offer ASL. The reason why the only college in North Dakota to offer an interpreting program is because its in a town called Devils Lake where the state's school for the deaf is at. To find if your state recognizes ASL as a foreign language, click here.

Teri was very nice and receptive over the phone. I thanked her for her time and I hope that she will have a follow-up article presenting this solution to the communities of North Dakota. To everybody reading this, promote ASL to be taught in as many schools in your state and if you know anybody in North Dakota, please do have them check my blog and have them to contact their DOE to have them to include ASL in the k to 12 curriculum.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Elected President.

Yesterday, I drove 90 minutes to the Georgia chapter of American Sign Language Teachers' Association (GA-ASLTA) meeting in Decatur. I met up with 12 wonderful and intelligent people who are in the field of interpreting, teaching, advocacy, and more. There are 27 members altogether in this organization.

This meeting marked the one year anniversary of their founding however the chapter has not really gotten going until 3 months ago. In the meeting, we've discussed about the progress of getting a tax-exempt status id, setting up a website, promoting the revisions of the ASL bill, providing workshops, and recruiting more members.

During the meeting, I was happy to see that I was making an impact by making two motions. First was to appoint a videographer and videotape all of our future workshops so we can show 30-45 second clip on our future website and set up a video library where people can rent or buy them. Second was to have one or two person to attend the Deaf Awarness Banquet at Macon on April 22nd as an exhibitor for GA-ASLTA to spread awareness of the organization and recruit more members.

At the end of the meeting was the election for the position of the President and Professional Development Coordinator position. The positions are for two year terms. Elections came up early for those two positions because one has moved out of state and another is moving out of state soon. To my surprise, I was nominated and I've accepted the nomination because I know I can and will make positive impact on the building progress that this organization is going through. No one else was nominated nor wanted to be nominated, I was accepted by the 12 other members as their new President. As for the Professional Development Coordinator position, no one has come forward to run for this position so the person who has held this position will continue to hold the position until the next meeting.

To sum all of this up, I truly look forward to successfully get this organization growing in terms of members and money to be able to make a bigger impact for all types of community in Georgia. We will be having a board meeting shortly and our next event is our first annual St. Patrick's ASL fest on the campus of Atlanta Area School f/t Deaf (AASD) on March 18th. If any of you Georgians reading this blog are interested to inquire more of the organization or want to join, please do contact me at sonnyjames(at)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Reaffirm My Belief.

I've been absent from this blog for nearly two weeks for a good cause. I've recently moved to start a new job as a teacher at Georgia School for the Deaf (GSD) in Cave Spring, Georgia. I teach third to fifth graders in math, reading, and social studies. It's a challenging and fun experience. I won't go into details with my job but I do want to reaffirm my belief on this blog that every deaf and hard of hearing child should be sent to the deaf school as early as possible. One shouldn't allow a deaf student to fall behind his/her hearing peers when s/he has an opportunity to advance his/her learning experience more proactively along with his/her deaf peers.

Monday, February 13, 2006

American Sign Language Teachers Association

I'm looking forward to my first meeting with the Georgia chapter of American Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA) at Decatur in Georgia this Saturday at the local GACHI office.

ASLTA is an non-profit organization that has eight objectives. To provide a closer relationship between teachers of American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf Studies and other organizations with interests consistent with the mission of the Association. To provide development opportunities for ASL and Deaf Studies teachers. To develop and maintain certification standards for ASL teachers and programs offering ASL and Deaf Studies courses. To certify ASL teachers and programs offering Deaf Studies courses. To develop standards and procedures for the accreditation of training programs, facilities and personnel involved in the education of teachers of ASL and/or Deaf Studies. To develop and maintain a national directory of members, certified teachers, and certified ASL and/or Deaf Studies programs. To provide an effective avenue for the exchange of information regarding methods and materials in the instruction of ASL and Deaf Studies. To encourage the development and maintenance of affilated chapters.

My intention for the meeting is to add a 9th objective. To have every high school in America to offer ASL classes. I'm not an ASL or Deaf Studies teacher but I am a strong advocate of ASL, not just for the deaf but for the hearing, for those who use English as their second language, and for those who have multiple disabilities.

ASL in high schools mean more teachers, professionals, and interpreters for the deaf. They are our future to better services for the deaf.