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Goldenhar's Syndrome:


Dear Dr. Vicars,
I am hoping you can help me with a few questions I have below. I sincerely appreciate any time you are willing to spare. I have started your online video lessons and love them!
My son was born with Goldenhar's Syndrome. Part of that includes a lack of ear canals. He has a functioning inner ear, so with a BAHA hearing aid, he should be able to hear pretty well. My partner and I have decided that he should have ASL as an additional language. While he will be a hearing child for the most part, without his hearing aid he is hard of hearing. Maybe he will feel connected to the Deaf community and the language will only help him in that. We are both very good at languages and, frankly, I have loved ASL for years and wanted to learn.
Many thanks,
-Michael

Question: (1)
I am Greek-American. I speak to my son in Greek and refer to myself as "babas." We refer to his other dad as "dad,'' in English. What about for ASL? Well, I came up with borrowing the GSL sign for babas (which is the same as the French sign for papa, or dad). My question is: Does it mean anything in ASL that will cause confusion? Here is the sign: http://www.sematos.eu/lsf-p-papa-7268-en.html

Reply:
The French sign for "papa" (according to the link you sent me) starts as an "L" hand near the corner of the mouth (the thumb tip is near the very corner of the mouth, the index fingertip is pointing directly upward, the palm orientation is forward). The index and thumb then come together so that the both the tip of the index finger and the tip of the thumb are now at the corner of the mouth).  There is no "one-handed" sign that looks specifically like that in ASL. There are however some signs that are close to that:
BIRD: A wide-G hand is pointed forward from in front of or near the mouth and closes twice (as if representing the beak of a bird). 

CAT: An open-F (or open-8, or wide G) is held near the corner of the mouth and is moved out to the side and closes into a regular F (or 8 or closed-G) as if representing the whiskers of a cat.
Also there is a version of the sign for PICNIC in ASL that looks very much like the French sign for PAPA except that version of the American Sign for PICNIC tends to use two hands (and seems to possibly trace its roots back to a version of the sign for CORN).

Question: (2)
How do gay parents sign "parents" in ASL, as it is comprised of "dad'' and ''mom''?

Reply:
I'll have to ask around for any "recent" developments on this topic (and if I find out more I'll let you know) but so far I've just seen gay Deaf parents sign "MOM-DAD" to mean "parents."  Quite a few people initialize the sign PARENTS by using a "P" handshape (or a "K" handshape actually since it is the tip of the middle finger that contacts the side of the chin and then the forehead. Also, at high speeds we often don't make contact -- we just come "close" to making contact.)

Many ASL teachers actively discourage their students from using the initialized version of PARENTS but I would suppose that "gay parents" may indeed be more inclined to use the P/K handshape since it adds a bit of distance from the "MOM" and/or the "DAD" signs and instead refers only to the concept of "parents." Again, I'll have to ask around -- but for sure I haven't seen any "widely established" alternate sign that specifically refers to "gay parents" (not yet anyway).   Perhaps of interest to you though is the situation of a hermaphrodite Deaf individual I knew who decided with his/her partner that he/she would like to be referred to by their children as Da-Mom and showed me the sign for "DAMOM" as being the thumb-tip of a "5-hand" tapped twice on the cheekbone (half way between the forehead and the chin) thus representing a blending of both signs DAD and MOM.  The partner was female and thus referred to as "MOM" and the hermaphrodite was referred to as DAMOM.

It would be interesting to see if any Deaf (or workshop presenters) have tried or have been signing "MALE-DADS" by tapping the tip of a 5-hand on one side of the forehead and then the other or signing "FEMALE-MOMS" by tapping the tip of a 5-hand on one side of the chin and then the other.  (Note: I have NOT seen this yet. I'm just betting that someday I will see it. Then even if I do see it that doesn't mean it will spread and become accepted by the general Deaf Community.)

Question (3)
What is the sign for BAHA (or Bone-Anchored Hearing Aids)? I have seen the sign for hearing aid, but they all seem to look like the standard amplifier, in-ear hearing aids, not the BAHA, which goes behind the ear on the skull. His will be attached with a softband for several years.

Reply:
Well, the "Behind the Ear Hearing Aid" sign consists of a loose X tapping twice above and a bit behind the ear as if representing the shape of a behind-the-ear hearing aid.  I've seen quite a few people sign HEARING-AID by tapping the fingertips of an H-hand twice on or near the ear canal (by which they simply meant "hearing aid" in general, but for which I would think of it as meaning "in the ear" hearing aid. If someone used a "G" hand at the ear canal (double insert movement) I'd consider that to mean "in the canal" aid specifically.  Now, for BAHA (Bone-Anchored Hearing Aids) I would simply spell B-A-H-A or I'd use the fingertips of an upside-down backward-pointing H-hand to tap the mastoid bone twice.  I've never seen anyone do that mind you. Plus it might be misconstrued as a screwed-up version of the sign for "cochlear implant."

 


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