BSL poem - Reflection on 1880, Milan

"The Second International Congress on Education of the Deaf was (despite the name) the first international conference of deaf educators held in Milan, Italy in 1880. It is commonly known as "The Milan Conference". After deliberations from September 6 to 11, 1880, the conference declared that oral education was superior tomanual education and passed a resolution banning the use of sign language in school. After its passage in 1880, schools in European countries and the United States switched to using speech therapy without sign language as a method of education for the deaf." (Wiki)

How do deaf people value this decision, what do they think about it's influence on their education, their lives?

"This riveting Milan 1880 themed poetry, signed by John Wilson and directed by {Nick Sturley} for SIGN ON back in 1993, explores the comparison between the oppressive oral education for the deaf and the cruel killings of the whales." (Ytube)


Helen Keller - Letter on Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

Helen Keller wrote the following letter to the New York Symphony Orchestra in March 1924. Here's how she describes listening to Beethoven's "Ninth Symphony" over the radio.

Dear Friends: 

I have the joy of being able to tell you that, though deaf and blind, I spent a glorious hour last night listening over the radio to Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony.” I do not mean to say that I “heard” the music in the sense that other people heard it; and I do not know whether I can make you understand how it was possible for me to derive pleasure from the symphony. It was a great surprise to myself. 
I had been reading in my magazine for the blind of the happiness that the radio was bringing to the sightless everywhere. I was delighted to know that the blind had gained a new source of enjoyment; but I did not dream that I could have any part in their joy. 
Last night, when the family was listening to your wonderful rendering of the immortal symphony someone suggested that I put my hand on the receiver and see if I could get any of the vibrations. He unscrewed the cap, and I lightly touched the sensitive diaphragm. What was my amazement to discover that I could feel, not only the vibration, but also the impassioned rhythm, the throb and the urge of the music! The intertwined and intermingling vibrations from different instruments enchanted me.  
I could actually distinguish the cornets, the roil of the drums, deep-toned violas and violins singing in exquisite unison. How the lovely speech of the violins flowed and plowed over the deepest tones of the other instruments! 
When the human voices leaped up thrilling from the surge of harmony, I recognized them instantly as voices more ecstatic, upcurving swift and flame-like, until my heart almost stood still. The women’s voices seemed an embodiment of all the angelic voices rushing in a harmonious flood of beautiful and inspiring sound. The great chorus throbbed against my fingers with poignant pause and flow. Then all the instruments and voices together burst forth – an ocean of heavenly vibration – and died away like winds when the atom is spent, ending in a delicate shower of sweet notes.
Of course this was not “hearing”, but I do know that the tones and harmonies conveyed to me moods of great beauty and majesty. I also sense, or thought I did, the tender sounds of nature that sing into my hand-swaying reeds and winds and the murmur of streams. I have never been so enraptured before by a multitude of tone-vibrations. 
As I listened, with darkness and melody, shadow and sound filling all the room, I could not help remembering that the great composer who poured forth such a flood of sweetness into the world was deaf like myself. I marveled at the power of his quenchless spirit by which out of his pain he wrought such joy for others – and there I sat, feeling with my hand the magnificent symphony which broke like a sea upon the silent shores of his soul and mine.

The Auricle, Vol. II, No. 6, March 1924. American Foundation for the Blind, Helen Keller Archives.

Source, image from HERE


Not hearing loss: deaf gain

Inspiring ASL speech from Marlee Matlin, deaf actress. 
Being deaf is not only a disadvantage, Deaf Culture has it's benefits!

(I haven't found which movie it is, please leave a comment if you know!)


Hawai'i Sign Language (HSL) is not a dialect. It's a different language from ASL

"A research group at the University of Hawaii at Manoa announced Friday that they had documented -- for the first time -- Hawaii Sign Language, or HSL, which deaf people across the islands' diverse ethnic groups have used for decades if not longer.
While there is written evidence dating back to 1821 indicating such a language existed, beginning in the 1940s it started to get largely phased out in favor of American Sign Language.
Researchers identified about 40 Hawaiians who still use it -- interviewing 19 of them, plus two adult children, on four islands for their study. But they are all 80 years of age or older, making it imperative to act now in order to preserve it before it's too late."

"Researchers are committed to a long term study of HSL with the goals of producing ... a dictionary (and) archived videotaped data," said James Woodward, an Adjunct Professor of Linguistics at the University of Hawaii at Mano. "It is also hoped that an effort can be made to revitalize HSL, so that it can be taught in high schools and universities in Hawaii."
Hearing-impaired people have found ways to communicate for generations, all across the world.
That might mean tapping into a well-established language, like ASL or International Sign Language, or finding some other way to get a point across.
"If they don't have access to learning a sign language that's already in existence, then a community of deaf people will find a way to communicate," said Leanne Hinton, a professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley. "Over time, they will find a way to stabilize and have a structure that becomes an actual language."
That's what the Hawaii university researchers say happened -- even if few realized that a distinctive sign language existed for decades on the island until now.
While the now-prevailing ASL has rubbed off some, Woodward said it's been relatively minimal among those practicing Hawaii Sign Language.
Specifically, at least 80% of its signs are distinct, while the rest come from ASL -- which he said is enough to characterize it as its own language, rather than a dialect.
For example, the Hawaii Sign Language word for father is to wag your finger -- whereas in ASL, it's an open hand with fingers spread and a thumb to the forehead. Want to say that someone is telling a lie? Then put an index finger in the middle of your throat.

The grammar structure in Hawaii Sign Language also differentiates it from ASL, Woodward noted.
"Sign languages ... evolve in a community of users, and are not signed versions of spoken languages," the university said in a press release. "The full history of HSL is yet to be told."
Source: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/03/02/us/hawaii-sign-language/


Monolingual vs. Bilingual

Let's see the "side effects" of being bilingual/monolingual... which option is better?
Interesting question, also in case of Sign Language users, especially in Deaf Education. 

What are your thoughts?

Source: lifehack.org


Rap made visible: Signmark (Finland)


"Signmark (a.k.a. Marko Vuoriheimo) was born deaf into a world where music is for the hearing. He pursued his childhood dream and became the first deaf in the world to get a record deal." 

More on his site, HERE



Happy International Interpreter Day for all Sign Language Interpreters!

Dear Sign Language Interpreters

Thank you for all your efforts and your spirit! This is your day, have a great one!


How to meditate? - explained in BSL

Are you upset? You don't know how to calm down? 

Try meditation!

Ben Fletcher explains you in British Sign Language, how to do that!


After 15 years of loneliness...

... Patrick speaks!

"Patrick Otema (15) was born profoundly deaf. In the remote area of Uganda where he lives there are no schools for deaf children, and he has never had a conversation. 

Raymond Okkelo, a sign language teacher, hopes to change all this and offer Patrick a way out of the fearful silence he has known his whole life."

( Source here )


Arabic Sign Languages

"The Arab sign-language family is a family of sign languages spread across the Arab Mideast. Its extent is not yet known, because only some of the sign languages in the region have been compared."

"A project for a single Arabic Sign Language is underway, with much of the vocabulary voted on by regional Deaf associations. However, so far only a dictionary has been compiled; grammar has not been addressed, so the result cannot be considered a language."

The Alphabet of Arabic Sign Language, https://lifeandlexis.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/how-i-learned-arabic-sign-language/

Other languages of the region appear to not be related
Moroccan Sign Language derives from American Sign Language, and Tunisian Sign Language from Italian Sign Language. 
There are numerous local Sudanese sign languages which are not even related to each other, and there are many other Arab village sign languages in the region, such as Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language and Ghardaia Sign Language, which are not related to the national languages."
(Source: Wikipedia)


The Life Cycle of an ASL Student

Don't miss this funny and true blog post about the life and experiences of those, who dedicate themselves to learn Sign Languages. 

Thank you for the author, great summary! 

Click HERE to read!


Text your friends in Sign Language!

"Signily" is the application to make signed text messages real.

What do ou get if you download the app?

ASL alphabet keyboard:

ASL expressions:

More info on developers website and blog!

Deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie - How to truly listen

How can deafness and music work together within the same person? 

"In this soaring demonstration, deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie illustrates how listening to music involves much more than simply letting sound waves hit your eardrums." 


Sign Language with cats

The whole family was prepared to the arrival of Bambi, the white deaf cat: her hearing owner started to use signs with the other cats also, even before Bambi's arrival, so she could feel comfortably from the first moment at her new home.

Now that's the real inclusive way of thinking!


Polish your Polish

Poland is a Central-European country, with a population of around 38,5 million people, right next to Germany on the map.
Polish language is not easy: it is almost oficially one of the most difficult languages in the world (in a tight competition with Hungarian). It has Slavic origins, but Polish people finished using cyrillic letters and they write with latin ones.

The alphabet already shows: maybe you will have some problems with pronounciation, when you try to say things correctly...

Things get even worse when you see the high percentage of consonants within one word:

And what about Polish Sign Language
For a start, let's check out how to fingerspell the alphabet! You can even try yourself with the words on the T-shirt above. Enjoy :)


Indian signs 3.

Sioux Indian Sign Language, 1940 

This video is signed by an ex-captain, who learnt signs from the Sioux tribe.


Signed superheroes

... by a comic fan...

...and by a five years old (with his own signs).


CODA pride

CODA = Children Of Deaf Adults

KODA = Kids Of Deaf Adults 

Screenshot from the short film "CODA Pride"


A sip of Mexican

This Mexican band, called Los Victorios, decided to dedicate their new song to the people using different communication forms. They learnt the lyrics of their new song in Mexican Sign Language, in collaboration with a professional sign language interpreter, and they shot their new video interpreting it themselves. 

The song is called Palabras, which means Words.