In-Depth Post #5

Hi everyone! I’m back for another post!

I have had another meeting with my group and mentor and I have learned more about my topic, ASL.

Progress Report

So far, we have learned vocabulary from 5 categories that we established, including greetings/basics, activities, time/calendar, people and emotions. We have used these signs to create and ask questions to each other in our meetings during our voice off sessions, having sort of small conversations. Each meeting, we discuss where everyone is at with what they have learned in between meetings, attempting to get everyone on the same page. We also use this start time to ask any questions that we have thought of, especially about deaf culture and such. We review the signs we learned in our previous one, then we see how much we each learned and remember from the new vocab, all done using a mentor-led voice-off session. Using the voice-off session really helps me improve my skills in paying attention and focusing on the person “speaking”, knowing that I need to concentrate on what they are saying. It helps me get better at being aware of those movements that tell me I need to pay attention, which is something that I know I need to work on if I want to be able to converse in ASL. It also helps me practice my finger-spelling and finger-spelling interpretation, I’ve built up my speed in both with the use of these sessions. Also, whenever there is a minute or so where Tori is not just saying one sign, but a sentence, I find that I really try to translate as quick as a I can, occasionally missing a word or two, but I’ve improved with my fast translation a lot since the beginning of the project. This is great because that will help me in understanding what is being said to me in ASL, especially when it is a fluent ASL speaker, since they will most likely be signing much faster. Using the signs we’ve learned so far, we come up with questions that we can ask relating to the topics/categories. These give us things to talk about when conversing in ASL, and they also teach us a little about the grammar of ASL and how to structure the individual signs sentences. They also allow us to learn a little bit more about each other through asking them and replying correctly in ASL, as well as just being really useful practice.

Next Meeting

We were recommended to watch two different documentaries to help us learn about deaf history and culture as we will move on to current activism in our upcoming meeting. We will learn signs from the categories food and colours, as well as a spattering of other signs that we will need for the new set of questions that we came up with in the two weeks in between meetings. We will practice these questions and how to answer them with each other in pairs next meeting to learn more about the other person through ASL, asking about family, emotions, favourite activities, etc. Next meeting we will review previous signs and the new categories that we learned using the same process as previous meetings.


Since we are supposed to learn the sign categories between meetings, I find myself sometimes procrastinating that task. I end up looking them up and learning them last minute so I’m caught up, but this means that I forget some of them during the meeting because I didn’t spend very much time on learning them. I do this a lot because at the beginning I put it off for later, then as the two weeks progress I forget that I still have that to do. Breaking this habit will help me to take my time with them and commit them to memory more, as well as relieve any stress related to the task. I am already improving with this by doing it straight away at least within two days of the meeting, before I forget to. I did this for this past meeting and I feel much better because I won’t be rushing to complete the task later. I will try to keep up this habit to continue to make this learning process easier and more effective.

Learning Contract

I have referred back to my learning contract, and upon revisiting the timeline/goals I had set up, I am realizing that my learning has strayed from that. A few of the things I mentioned, including the structure and hand-shapes in the signs, I can not really learn because that is not something my mentor is equipped to teach. Instead, I am learning deaf culture and history, as well as current activism. I plan to continue learning the signs throughout the project and restructure my timeline along with that. I have already mostly completed the goal in which I learn what is considered rude and appropriate so I can be respectful when communicating with deaf individuals. In the next few meetings I hope to discuss the resources posted by my mentor about the history and discuss current events to help us understand the culture better, and I think that this is a good place in the project because it is sort of in the middle. We know enough respect so far, and continuing forward, this information on deaf culture will help us learn more thoughtfully. Then, I hope to move forward into grammar as we near the end of the project to help us translate quickly in our heads and practically put the signs we’ve learned to work in a regular non-practice environment. Along the way, I would also like to find out if my mentor knows any slang or shortcuts that fluent speakers use for fast communication, so I can become more versed in the slight nuances in the language and be a more natural ASL speaker. I will also ask the questions that I had come up with for my learning contract in the next couple of meetings.

In my learning contract as one of the possible issues, I put miscommunication/lack of info and missed meetings. I believe we have done a very good job avoiding these problems, as we have set up a meeting schedule that always stays on the same day and time, once every two weeks, and it works with when everyone is available. Whenever one person is going to be a little late, we just postpone the meeting until then, which works fine, especially since this has only happened once and only for fifteen minutes.  As for any information that we share as a group, it is stored in a shared document that we can edit and reference, keeping track of what needs to be reviewed for next meeting as well as resources posted by our mentor. This has been very helpful as it is an easy and convenient way to find any information that you need and are missing or have forgotten, all of it being the same for each person since it is a collective effort, solving this problem before it begins. We also have a few different ways of communicating inside our group and contacting each other if any specific questions arise.

How to Have A Beautiful Mind

I am not going to be directly quoting a conversation that has been recorded, but instead I will summarize the discussion using the parts where the roles of the hats were included. (Each of the points made is something we discussed in the meetings)

We talked about how Tori had been in contact with someone she knew who was deaf and an ASL instructor, and that he was possible willing to join us for a meeting and have a conversation with us.

White Hat – We know that he is fluent in the language because it his primary language and he teaches it, meaning he has an extensive knowledge. We know that he understands how to work with students and people who are not fully fluent in the language and will be cooperative when communicating with us. We know that he is deaf, and therefore to be respectful our meeting would have to be completely voice-off.

Red Hat – We all thought that meeting with him would be a really good idea. I thought that we should meet with him near the end of our project, after we have learned more and can more easily communicate voice-off. This way we will feel more comfortable in our meeting.

Black Hat – If we meet at the end of the project, we will be stronger with our abilities speaking in ASL and will be able to successfully have a conversation with him. Because it will be a voice-off meeting, we may struggle with saying things sometimes. It will be easy to arrange this meeting, since it will be online and it is much easier to jump on a Zoom call than actually meet up in person, so this works out rather nicely. We discussed if we might need an interpreter to help us, but we decided against it because it would cost money and would be unnecessary if we problem-solve (see green hat section)

Yellow Hat – Meeting with a deaf individual will give us practical experience in using ASL, giving us an idea of what it is like to use it in daily life. He can provide insight into the lives of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals and teach us the lesser known things about deaf culture and ASL. We will learn what it is like to talk with a deaf person. It can be a nice way to test our knowledge at the end of the project and appreciate what we’ve learned, being an option for our final test included in our learning contract.

Green Hat – If we come across something that we want to say but don’t know how to, we can ask using finger-spelling and hopefully he can help us or Tori can. Although it will be completely voice-off and we can still use ASL to ask questions if we are stuck or confused, it is likely that we might have an instance where we can’t figure out our issue that way. Fortunately, if we really get stuck, we can still remain voice-off and don’t need an interpreter as suggested in the black hat section. Because our meeting will be online, if need be, we can use the chat as a backup form of communication.

Blue Hat – We discussed these topics in an orderly fashion, we first considered the initial idea and decided how that would help us and if we should do it. Then we brought up different possibilities for the timing/date of the meeting, thinking about how the conversation would change in relation to that. And afterwards, we talked about the technicalities and parts that might be important moving forwards to know how things will run smoothly.



In-Depth Post #4

Hey everyone! Hope you’re all doing well!

I have had another meeting with my mentor and group, where we continued to structure the project and our “curriculum”, as well as learn/practice new signs.

Early on in the meeting, I asked a question that I had come up with a few days before. Previously, I had learned that it is considered more respectful to not use the term “hearing loss”, implying that deaf individuals have lost something, which is not the case. Being deaf or hard-of-hearing is not a disability and it should be treated as such, so “deaf” and “hard-of-hearing” are the preferred terms in the deaf community.

But I had recently come across a hypothetical situation in which the person was able to hear, but over time something caused them to become deaf. This had me thinking, because technically, they have “lost” their hearing. And not in the sense that it is something that they are missing and it’s a detriment, but they had the ability to hear and then that went away, so I was very curious as to what you would call that if not “hearing loss”.

I asked Tori if that was an appropriate situation to use the term, or if there was something else to call it. Unfortunately, I asked this question right before the meeting started recording, so I don’t have her direct quote, but I will paraphrase her basic answer. She mentioned how the medical terms and the social terms are used differently, so medically, in that scenario, it is called hearing loss or something similar. But it’s not always used the same way in a social environment, where it could be used more figuratively as described in the first paragraph, rather than literally as a technical term, such as from a medical standpoint. She brought up a few more things about the technicalities as well:

  • How there is a scale of deafness, so that one person could just have trouble hearing, but still be able to, whereas another could be completely deaf. This means that someone could progress along this scale, for example gradually becoming more deaf, which would create different circumstances possibly, than someone born deaf.
  • There are different causes and types of deafness, so that must be taken into account when thinking about how the social and medical aspects of deafness differ and come into play

Learning about all this and the proper terms to use, etc. has made me really think about what I’m saying when I’m talking about deafness; I have to adjust so that I am being respectful and accurate. Since beginning this project, my perception on deafness has kind of changed, because I always knew that there was an entire culture behind it, but I never realized just how complex it really is. I find that I see things differently, I notice more when I see or say something pertaining to deafness, and I am often searching to understand it better.


We decided to focus on deaf culture history and current events in our upcoming meetings. Learning the current events and activism relating to deaf culture will be helpful to us because we will be well informed on how it is progressing in our society, giving us a more relevant understanding of deaf culture. We will also learn the history of deaf culture because it will show some of the reasoning behind it, which will not only help us accept it into our learning and our lives, but it will make the current events make more sense.

Before our last meeting, we learned a spattering of signs from the calendar/time and activities categories, seeing as these are good small talk topics and will help us when attempting to communicate in ASL. In our meeting, we reviewed these predetermined signs and learned any we didn’t know to make sure that everyone in the group was on the same page. Some of these signs included the times of day (morning, noon, night, etc.), periods of time, school, study, and many others. To practice them, we had a voice-off period where Tori would finger-spell one of the signs and we would have to sign what it was back to her, and where she would sign something and we would finger-spell it. This helped us not only to remember the signs more easily, but to get better with using and interpreting finger-spelling, which can be very useful to non-fluent ASL speakers.

When we were finished practising, we decided on the signs to learn for next meeting. We chose the categories “people” and “emotions”, which will also be common in conversation because you can say how you are feeling and you can talk about your family, friends, etc. We also came up with questions and sentences using what we have learned so far to use in conversation and that we will practice.

For this in-depth project, we must complete a test of our newly learned skill, which we decided on before starting. But after learning more about deaf culture and what is acceptable, I have found that my original idea will not work, because a hearing person should not use ASL for performance purposes. So I have adjusted my plan so that at the end of the project, my group and I will have a conversation with a deaf individual using what we have learned from our mentor. Leading up to this, we may also get a chance to meet with multiple other deaf people to further our knowledge and gain insight from people who are part of the deaf community, as well as practice conversing in ASL.

In-Depth Post #3

Hey everyone!

Since my last post I have met with my mentor, Tori, along with the four others in my group. This includes Sinu, Xylia and Anya. We decided to learn together to make it a less complicated schedule for Tori, making it more efficient to learn, and practising a language with others is the best way to learn it.

During the meeting we discussed what we intended to learn throughout the project to get a clearer view of the coming lessons, Tori answered some questions about deaf culture and other important points, we learned the basic greeting signs together, and we defined a meeting schedule that works for everyone.

We intend to learn the important signs that would help us get through in a conversation, allowing us to small talk in ASL, and although Tori can’t teach us all the signs because she is not completely fluent or certified, she is going to give us resources to learn from and act as someone we can practice with. Once we know some vocabulary, we can look more into grammar, since ASL has its own grammar and is not the same as English, so that will be helpful in being better at communicating in the language. Then, learning the deaf culture is an extremely important part of learning ASL because being respectful to the deaf community is necessary when speaking in the primarily used language in that group. I made sure to make it clear that this was something that I was really wanting to focus on at some point in our mentor-ship.

We started with Tori answering questions that a couple of us had come up with, which included a few different topics. The first one covered was, “How did your research on the culture and history of ASL change your perspective on the language? Did your developing understanding help or change nothing when learning ASL?”, which was asked by Anya. I have included parts of Tori’s answer that I thought were representative of her thoughts.

“Learning the background of this language has made me think twice about how I use it, making sure I’m respecting the language and making sure I’m using it in a way that’s not going to offend anyone. For example, a hearing person should never use ASL for a performance purpose because that’s kind of retracting from the language and the culture.” “…Making sure you’re using it in the right ways and for the right reasons.” I pulled interest from this because I really connected with that statement. Recently I have been thinking about how I can be respectful of the deaf community when learning and using ASL, as well as reflecting on why I want to learn the language. So I thought that this encapsulated those feelings in a very concise way and explains it well.

The second question was, “What can we expect to experience or what challenges will we face while trying to learn and understand ASL as a language and culturally?”, also asked by Anya. She mentioned that we should be careful when looking at articles from deaf people, because there are lots of opinion pieces and are not always fact for everyone and there are different opinions within the community, so we should be careful to not generalize those pieces. Something that also stood out to me was when she talked a little about one of her early struggles. “…One thing for me was for a while, when I was learning ASL I was kind of thinking of it as another way to express English… ASL is an entire language on its own and it has its own grammar…” She talked about how it’s not just another version of English and I enjoyed this answer because thinking about different languages in that way has really helped me in learning other ones as well, making it easier to think about translation.

Tori spoke about what would be considered rude or offensive in the deaf community, from my prompting in our previous meeting. This included not seeing being deaf or hard of hearing as a disability, like they’re missing something or have lost something, because it’s not a bad thing or a disability. This means that calling it hearing “loss” is not considered polite. “People in deaf culture very much take on their deafness as something that is part of them, something that shouldn’t be fixed, something that is just being a different culture.” I found this to be really powerful because it makes you think more about how being deaf is actually thought of from a deaf persons perspective, helping understand that community more. She also mentioned some rude/offensive phrases, saying and such to avoid like, “I’m so sorry for you”, “deaf as a doorknob”, “deaf and dumb/deaf and mute” (the last two are older sayings). Another thing is the “no never mind rule”, basically about how deaf or hard of hearing people will miss a lot of things you might say quieter or harder to notice, so you should never say “no never mind” and should repeat yourself, even if you rethink your statement, out of respect so they don’t feel like they’re being left out of something. I had to commit this to my memory, because I tend to mutter to myself and say never mind a lot, so I would have to work on this to be more polite.

We also learned how to greet someone and introduce ourselves with finger-spelling, along with “nice to meet you”, “what’s your name”, “how old are you”, how to sign your age, and how to ask and reply to “how are you”. We practice this by signing each other’s names and asking a question to that person in ASL, which they have to respond to. While learning these, a question came up as to what hand-shape should be used for sign the sign for “my”, and Tori answered saying that you use your palm on your chest and not your pointer finger, which is “I”. I supported this fact by saying it is the same as “you” vs “your”, using your index finger vs your palm, respectively. I knew this from previous learning of basic signs on a website, and I wanted to clarify and connect with that.

During our meeting, we decide that we would meet at 2 pm every second Sunday for probably an hour each, starting with vocabulary and progressing through our “curriculum”. We would try to dedicate a small amount of time once we had some basic knowledge to practising without speaking each meeting to build our comfort in using ASL. In between meetings, we use resources provided by Tori to learn some basic vocab from a list that we put together in a shared document. Because I already know a fair amount of ASL from previous learning experience, I knew that I was going to be adjusting the list that I personally needed to learn, making it more specific to me. Also, if, as the project progresses, we are not reaching the material that I hope to learn, and I find that much of what we are learning is knowledge I already have, I plan to possibly set up extra one-on-one meetings with Tori tailored to my progress, as well as attending the group meetings.

In conclusion, I found that the techniques from the “How To Have A Beautiful Mind” criteria I used mainly were:

#6 “To find and make connections that link matters together and generates interest.”

#10 “To explore, to elaborate and to pull interest out of the matter.”

#3 “To support a point your mentor makes with additional facts, figures, evidence etc.”

#10 “To modify an idea to make it more acceptable to yourself and to make it stronger or more practical.”

Thanks for reading!

In-Depth Skill Introduction

Hello everyone!

In-Depth is an opportunity to learn a skill that interests you, which you are passionate about. You should be motivated to learn this skill because it coincides with your interests. You should have an in-depth plan for learning your skill in place before you begin so that you know exactly how you want everything to play out. This should include contingency plans, your goal and anything else that is important to the project and how you will complete it. To learn your skill you must recruit a mentor to teach you, this person should have an extensive knowledge of your chosen skill and be willing to meet with you at least once a month to teach you.

The In-Depth skill I have chosen to learn is ASL (American Sign Language) because for some, it is the only language they can verbally communicate in, and knowing how to speak it fluently can not only help me understand more about deaf culture and that group of people in our society but allow me to talk with others than don’t share my ability to hear. Also, it is a beautiful, almost artistic language that can be very expressive and it would be useful in conveying emotions when I don’t want to use only spoken words. I think it’s very interesting to learn a language that isn’t vocal as most are and how it works because of that.

I will learn ASL by learning from a mentor who has an extensive knowledge of the language as well as the culture so I can learn the actual signs, the grammar and structure, which will help me to better translate from English to ASL and vice versa, and deaf culture, so that I can be a respectful member of the signing community. The signs will include important words that are used in everyday life, and the grammar will help me to understand how to simplify an English sentence into ASL. I want to learn the culture, what is rude and what is considered respectful, as well as common phrases and “shortcuts” that fluent speakers use. I will meet with this mentor along with 4 of my classmates using video calls at least once a month until the end of May to learn as much as I can. I will review these lessons with my group to make sure that we understand and remember everything and we will help each other if we have any issues with the material. I will practice on my own, keeping the information fresh in my memory, as well as attempt to teach what I have learned to my family, ensuring that I understand it enough to do so.

Others can help me by allowing me to teach them some of the things I learn during the mentor-ship when they have free time, which will help me strengthen my comfort with “speaking” the language. By doing this they will also allow me to review what I have learned and giving me more practice.

In conclusion, I will be learning all the different parts of ASL to better understand the deaf community and because it is a beautiful language that is very expressive and interesting. I will meet with my mentor along with a group of others learning ASL as well and to practice I will use multiple methods that will help me comprehend the information better. Others can help me by allowing me to practice with them and possibly teach them so I become more comfortable with my abilities.

I’m really excited to learn this skill, wish me luck with my project and good luck to the rest of you with yours!