I have another great ASL website to recommend this week: ASL Pro. Like the ASL Browser, it offers free video clips demonstrating thousands of signs. There's a special category for signs especially pertinent to little ones ("ASL for Babies") as well as a separate dictionary of religious signs. There's even have a quiz option so you can test yourself! Very cool.
Unfortunately, I cannot link directly to individual words in its dictionary (just as with the ASL Browser), so the links below will take you to still-photo-demonstrations of the signs. As always, I recommend looking them up in one of the video dictionaries in order to see the sign in motion.
Help. *The illustration for this sign shows a closed fist on top of a flat palm. I learned it with the thumb of the fist pointing upward, as it is demonstrated on the ASL Browser. Also, this is a "directional" sign—while making the sign, your hands move in the direction the "help" goes—from me to you, for example, if I'm offering to help you; or from you to me, if I'm asking you to help me. The ASL Browser demos the basic sign (without direction), which uses a slight upward movement of the hands.
And a bonus: the sign for YOU is, not surprisingly, simply pointing your index finger at the person to whom you're speaking. Which means you can now sign:
"Do you want more?" Sign: YOU WANT MORE, raising your eyebrows and leaning forward slightly to make it a question.
"You need help!" Sign: YOU NEED HELP
and lots of other simple sentences using last week's words (yes, no, please, thank you, and hello).
Here's a link to the wonderful ASL Browser, a site featuring video demonstrations of hundreds and hundreds of signs. Its setup won't allow me to link directly to a specific word, but there's an alphabetical listing for you to peruse.
Most of the signs at this site are demonstrated through a series of still photos instead of video, but I can link to individual words there. I recommend visiting the ASL Browser for a live-action demo of the words as well.
We had an explosion here last week. A language explosion—Wonderboy is suddenly bursting with new signs at the rate of three or four a day. It's awesome. He has even put together his first sentence—and I warn you, it's a heart-melter. Daddy love.
Jane's baby book (the only one that has anything written in it—sorry, children numbers two, three, and four) contains dated lists of the words she was learning to speak. I collected them with the zeal a philatelist reserves for the rarest of stamps. I would have pressed each new word between tissue like a wildflower, if I could have. Witnessing a child's determined quest for language is one for me of the best parts of motherhood.
And this time—oh, this time is the best yet. I'm sure my daughters will forgive my saying so, because they're caught up in the spell too. Wonderboy's hands shape meaning from air. Mommy, Daddy, baby, cracker, help, hungry, banana, more, sick, scared, let's go, bye-bye, mine, hi, ball, uh-oh, jump, water, kiss, signing, bird, dog, please, finished...I'm sure I'm missing some. I can't keep up.
Hand in hand (so to speak) with the emerging signs are new spoken words. Sure, so far they're all variations on the same few sounds—eh eh (help), ah-ah (cracker), mah! mah! (more), MAH-meh (Amen)....We're grateful for the ASL signs that help us translate his speech. More verbal speech will come. But he already speaks volumes with his grin and his fluttering hands.
This morning he seemed to be practicing all the words he knows, hands flying from one sign to another, talking to no one but himself, chuckling with satisfaction. It put me in mind of one of Rachel Coleman's beautiful songs on the first Signing Time video.
Tell me that you love me,
Tell me that you're thinking of me,
Tell me all about the things you're thinking, both day and night.
Tell me that you're happy
And you love it when we're laughing,
Tell me more, oh tell me more,
Show me a sign....
I have raved about Signing Time here before, and I'm sure I'll do it again. It's hard for me to imagine our lives without Signing Time. Rachel Coleman, the creator, and her daughter Leah, who is deaf, and Leah's cousin Alex, who is hearing, are practically part of our family. "Rachel says" and "Leah says" are regular utterances around here. When Wonderboy watches the videos, he looks back and forth from me to Rachel, or from his sisters to the children, in awed delight. His hands soar through the air, mimicking his beloved Rachel. He understands the spoken words "Signing Time" even without his hearing aids in. (This is significant. He probably hears something like "eye-ee-eye," but he sure knows what it means.)
Rachel's songs have become my personal highway belt-it-out favorites (along with Marie Bellet and Bruce Springsteen), because she *gets it* so completely. Leah was a year old when her parents learned she was deaf. Rachel's family's love and occupation is music, and my hat is off to Rachel Coleman for finding a way to so beautifully combine her old life with her new one. Next to the joy she has brought my children, my favorite thing about Rachel Coleman is her honesty in lyrics. Her song, "The Good," expresses my understanding of motherhood better than anything I've ever written: "Maybe we won't find easy, but baby we've found the good." And the inspiring "Shine" on Volume 6, written with both Rachel's children in mind (her younger daughter, Lucy, has spina bifida and CP), speaks frankly of the pangs that sometimes hit the heart of the parent of a special-needs child:
Sometimes I see you stuck
For such a long time
A daily nothing new
Pretend I don’t mind
With lists of things you’ll never do
Until somehow you do
And you do – you do – you shine
The days and months and years,
they run together
Is it just one day? Or is this forever?
You’ve taught me in your lifetime
More than I’d learned in mine
And you do, you do, you shine
Shine Shine Shine Shine Shine
Shine your light on me
Shine Shine Shine Shine Shine
everyone will see
Shine Shine Shine Shine Shine
I’m so glad you are mine
Oh how Rachel nails it! I'm so glad he is mine. Yes, maybe we haven't found easy, but baby, we've found the good. And so very good it is. All the signs say so.
Our family favorite: the Signing Time DVDs and videos. My girls got these for Christmas and we're all captivated! See All About Wonderboy to find out why we're learning sign language. Signing Time creator Rachel Coleman, her daughter Leah (who is deaf), and Leah's cousin Alex (who is hearing) have got my children signing and singing up a storm! We bought them because of the signs and fell in love with them because of the songs—Rachel is a gifted singer and songwriter. Highly recommended. Check them out at www.signingtime.com.
Need practice reading fingerspelling? This site spells out words for you in the manual alphabet, and you type in your answer. It repeats the word over and over until you get it right. ASL Fingerspelling Quiz